My name is Layla and I am a support worker for Alzheimer’s Support.  
This is a diary of my visits to Gill and how my dog helped her regain her confidence to go out. It is published with her and her family's permission...

On 10th January 2019 I went with my Care Coordinator, Jackie, to meet a lady called Gill to see if she would be happy for me to spend time with her.  Jackie had already spoken with Gill so she introduced us. We were offered a cup of coffee and we sat and spoke about her interests and hobbies.

I noticed her artwork around her home and I asked her questions and took a real interest. I said: "You'll have to paint me one day?" to which she replied "I am out of practice now," and added "I just don't have the time."

We discussed what days and times would suit her for me to visit and we agreed to a Monday every week. After an hour Jackie and I said our goodbyes and I said that I looked forward to seeing her on Monday. Gill responded with "We will see how it goes" and that she was pleased to meet me.

A musical family

On our first visit, we sat and we spoke about a lot of things. Her family, her husband and her art. When talking about her family Gill is very proud. Her sister was four years younger than her and played the piano. Her mother played the cello and father played the piano too. A very musical family.  Although Gill could play the piano, she preferred to do art. I sat and enjoyed her company.

Gill said her mother was a beautiful woman that you could depend on. Her father wrote a book that was published. Gill showed me with such pride. Gill loves books herself. So much so she was a librarian for many years.

We spoke about Gill's grandmother (her mother’s mother). Her name was Laura Lyons and she sang opera on stage. We did try to look up some information about her but considering it would have been in the 1800's it proved difficult.

My main priority here is to make Gill feel important and valued.

Over the following weeks we established that I was a Leo star sign and Gill was a Cancer sign. We found this amusing because her husband is a Leo and my husband is a Cancer. With that, Gill made us a cup of coffee and we had a Leo and a Cancer mug to drink out of. This really broke the ice and Gill went on to tell me more about her mother and father.

We also talked about her amazing art work. As she started to trust me more she started to sketch me. I felt honoured. I felt as though we were building a rapport now. Gill is now comfortable to invite me up into her drawing room. I sat and Gill sketched me.

Gill asked me if I could get her a photo of myself so that she could work from that. I am passionate about getting her back to her art so I agreed.


Happy memories

When I visited Gill I would always find out how her week had gone and observe how she was feeling. We spoke about her husband, who now lives in a care home. Gill was quite concerned one particular day because he had gone into hospital so my priority was making sure Gill was relaxed and reassured.

Gill spoke about when they first met and where. They were both at the same venue for a function. They caught eye contact but when Gill looked back he was gone. She says how disappointed she was that he had gone but then, from over her shoulder, his hand came to help her with her cup of coffee. Seven weeks later they were married. Gill was 25. Gill's husband was a Regimental Sergeant Major in the army. Gill is very proud of this. Her portrait of him is hanging in her hallway. 

Every visit depended on how Gill was feeling and one day I had the privilege of pampering her. I filed her nails and painted them for her. She was so happy and kept saying thank you. I just replied "that’s what friends are for!"

This was when I learned the story about her damaged finger nail. She had got bitten by a horse and the nail never really grew back properly. Gill spoke more about when her and her sister went to stay on a farm when they were evacuated in the war. She remembers it being very different to city life!

A dog named Sky

I encouraged her art and would always ask her to come out for a walk.

Going out is something she isn’t happy about doing as of yet. We went to her drawing room instead and I sat whilst Gill did her colour sketch. I just love seeing her do what she loves to do. As I sat there I glanced around at all her art work and paintings. Gill has a real talent. The paintings have so much detail. Fascinating and excellent!

Some days Gill wasn't in the mood for doing much. She was tired. So I would make her a cup of coffee and wash up. If I noticed that she was low on a few things I would help Gill write a list so I could go to the shop for her. I always asked if she would join me but she was reluctant to come. I went on to the shops and managed to get her all that she needed. Gill was amazed at how quick I was. We would have another cup of coffee and Gill would get her biscuits out.

I was really keen to get Gill out with me. Gill told me about coming fourth at Crufts with her red setter and how much she loved dogs. I contacted Jackie to ask if I could take my dog to work one day because I think my dog could be the key to inspire Gill to come out. Jackie said yes. I was over the moon!

I took my dog named Sky to work and Gill was so made up when she saw her. Sky really liked her too. Gill has a photo of Sky up in her living room that she wanted to sketch from. I said: "Are you going to do a colour sketch of Sky today?" with that Gill went upstairs and got her paper and pens.  Sky laid down and went to sleep. Gill went to work!


Sky has no idea what’s going on as she is sleeping on the rug quite comfortably. This is amazing!!

I took the opportunity to ask Gill to come with me so I could take Sky out for a walk. Gill agreed! I was thrilled.

This was amazing. Just to see the happiness in Gill's face. She wanted to walk on for miles to explore. She didn’t remember any of these places and we were so lucky that it was a beautiful day too.

Gill took the opportunity to go into her husband’s church. We have made more plans to go for walks and even spoke about visiting the Southwick Country Park. 

We have built such a strong connection but I really believe that my dog, Sky was what really inspired Gill to come out with me. Gill is a wonderful person. I look forward to seeing her every week. Gill has said herself that she looks forward to Mondays too.


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