New Brunswick

Duo undertake new venture, helping dementia caretakers cope from home

Fredericton duo start a coaching business for family members who are caring for loved ones with dementia still living at home.

Their new service allows a caretaker to call from home and receive real

Ashley King, left, and Daphne Noonan, right, have begun a new business venture, one where informal caregiver can call and recieve real-world practical advice on how to live with a loved one with dementia. (Submitted)

When Ashley King and her business partner were pitching their new idea, she had an epiphany.

Their pitch was simple: a coaching service to help families and alternative caretakers cope with looking after their slowly fading loved ones with dementia from home.

"I realize I could have been one of our clients," King said, reflecting on looking after her grandmother as a university student.

"[The experience] gave me that lens of what it was like from a caregiver perspective."

King and Noonan operate Person Centred Universe, a business that provides dementia care training for workers in nursing homes.

Idea there all along

But the idea of looking at the people surrounding those with dementia and accessing how to help them, the two women feel is overlooked.

And, they say, if left unchecked, it can lead to crises.

This past spring, at a business accelerator event at the University of New Brunswick, it finally clicked that a service like this was needed — that this lack of care and training for informal caregivers existed.

As a university student, Ashley King looked after her grandmother, who had dementia. (Submitted)
Their new service, which they are now experimenting with, is relatively straightforward.

It's telephone or Skype based, where someone locked in these isolating situations can call and receive practical ways of improving how they're providing care.

The idea had been staring them in the face, Noonan said, but slowly built to this realization.

"We did realize that a lot of the time we were being asked to provide that service," Noonan said.

"We had this 'Ah ha' moment when we realized, 'Wow, we have a really important part of the puzzle here in terms of the dementia experience that we really should be responding to,'" she said.

Caretaking requires sacrifices

The service is open to people all across the country but, being from Fredericton, they hope New Brunswick is an early adopter.

King said that situation, looking after someone you love, requires sacrifices and takes energy.

She said she wishes she had had a similar resource when she was taking care of her grandmother.

Spending time with your loved one is most important and making sure your loved one is safe.- Ashley King

"We did the best with what we had to work with," King said, reflecting her own experience.

"What we had to work with was myself and my 15-year-old brother sleeping at the base of the bed so that if my grandmother woke up and started walking around, that she stepped on the mattress at the foot of her bed."

The serve is not a one-size-fits-all approach, they say.

"When you've met one person with dementia," Noonan said. "You've met one person with dementia."

King said everyone is different and every journey and experience is different.

But the idea is to help prevent crises, whether it's through preventing a patient being hurt through lack of care or a caretaker reaching their breaking point.

And, for King, it's also about making sure the time with a relative at the end of their life is well spent.

"Sometimes, internet and research is not the best use," she said.

"Spending time with your loved one is most important and making sure your loved one is safe."