I have been involved with residential care now for 28 years. During the past 15 years I have managed care homes registered for Old Age, Dementia and Alcohol Related Brain Damage. My interest in ARBD and in particular Wernicke’s Korsakoff’s syndrome began in 2006 and since then I have worked with over five hundred people diagnosed with that condition. I would describe ARBD as a spectrum of illnesses from people who are capable of managing independently within the community to those who present with dementia type symptoms. Each person is different and the phrase ‘person centred care’ applies particularly to the requirements of this group of people.
Wernicke’s Korsakoff’s syndrome was recognised almost 130 years ago and today is well known within the medical community. However, the condition is still misunderstood perhaps because the person can present as having capacity and would appear to be able to hold a relevant conversation. Only time spent with the person will reveal the true nature of the illness. My hope for the future is that this illness is better understood so that responses can be understood correctly.
In 1999, in Slovakia, I started to work as a therapist in a re-socialisation centre for people who experienced problems with alcohol, drug and gambling addictions. Over the years I have gained the knowledge and experience from working with people with addictions. I was also involved with delivering prevention programmes for young people, based around addictions.
It’s in my nature to help people. Back in my childhood, I witnessed a great example in my family, of carrying someone who is not well or requires help, as my father was poorly and required 24/7 care, which was provided by my mum.
In 2006 I moved to the UK as I was interested in learning even more about addictions. I started to work for a private company as a care assistant. After a few months, based on my previous experience, I was offered a position as deputy manager in a specialist residential home for people with alcohol related problems, such as brain damage, particularly Korsakoff’s syndrome. Since 2008 I’ve been a manager in ARBD homes.
Over the years I have met many people, clients, professionals, family members. I have made many friends. I strongly believe that alcohol related brain damage as a subject is still unknown in society and people need to be made aware. I have also discovered that society is still very unfriendly with people who are diagnosed with ARBD, as people believe that it’s their own fault, rather than recognise them as people with a serious illness. Over the years I have gained the knowledge and practical experience whilst working with people diagnosed with alcohol related brain damage and it comes very natural for me to share what I know with other people. We always say: