Anne-Marie Nuth shared her experience of Old Silk Works day club and its role in supporting her family following her father's dementia diagnosis.

I have worked many years for the NHS and take pride in the many and varied services I have been lucky enough to be part of and deliver. I recognise that the truest and most honest account of any service will always come from lived experience, from the person or their carer, offering the most connection between people’s hearts and minds. The most powerful learning for me as a clinician was to experience care personally, from a carer's perspective in seeking support for my own father.

Caring for Dad in the later stages of his dementia is in so many ways rewarding, but also very challenging. Dad presented with many symptoms, some of which could be attributable to his physical health and frailty and others that were related to his mental health and dementia diagnosis. We had experienced many different clinicians, services and appointments repeating the same story over and over again, our ability to care was breaking.

Time really matters, the seconds, the moments, we started to lose Dad and our family relationships as we resumed caring roles, forgetting what we meant to him and what mattered most.

My background as a nurse meant I knew many of the roads to walk down to get help, however, even with this knowledge, my family struggled to support Dad and maintain his and mum's quality of life. That is until we received support from the Old Silk Works.

A Second Home

The Old Silk Works found us all again, giving back the person behind the disease, the family behind their caring roles, ensuring he was not defined by his diagnosis, nor the family defined by a caring role.

Here it felt safe, a second home, offering enhanced support for Dad and respite for us, enabling our continued support for Dad when he was at his most vulnerable and with the most complex physical, mental and social needs.  

Right from the initial opportunity to convey what mattered most to Dad and a picture of who he is and the current situation and problems, all actions centred around Dad and were truly personal. The care he received was holistic and integrated and this truly was in Dad's Best Interest. At last, I felt I was honouring him and my role of power of attorney for his health and welfare.

I felt this club, this “family”, made the difference, not just Dad, but for the people that care for him now and his family’s health and well-being. I lost count of the many differing ideas and action plans made prior to joining this club. The club shared knowledge, communication was with investment and interest, the approach to Dad was agreed and reviewed each time he attended keeping him at the centre of everything they do.

The need for this service was demonstrated all to painfully during COVID and I am so glad they fought to open as soon as possible as we watched Dad's demise and many of the other club members by not being able to attend and be part of the usual activity and fun.

All the right people work in that club, every individual we came across were amazing, knowledgeable, kind individuals doing their best for my Dad. This powerful, collaborative and fun approach should not be underestimated.

Lastly, but most importantly to me, the club would be championed by my Dad, he would be its biggest cheerleader. Dad will not remember the facts of his experience, that part of his brain lets him down, but the part of his brain that worked well, despite his dementia, is his feelings, and the difference the club made to how he felt remained long after his visits.  What mattered most to Dad is the people closest to him. We are incredibly grateful for this service, it didn’t just wrap around Dad but the people most important to him. Our care for him would not have stood the test of time without the exemplary care given to all of us by the Old Silk Works. I believe that this club prevented care breaking down at home.

In my current role I advocate the approach of this club, the meaningful activity, inclusivity and personalised approach that so many professionals could learn from.

I could thank you all endlessly.

Anne-Marie Nuth - Daughter of Barry “Island” (his Old Silk Works nickname!)