Amanda talks about caring, empathy and the magic of music as part of Dementia Action Week

Amanda Eddy

Amanda Eddy has worked in residential care for 40 years, and for the last 35 years has been at Southway residential home, working with people with moderate to advanced dementia.

She has cared for countless residents, and become a familiar face to them, their families, and her colleagues, doing a job she loves.

But when we met as part of Dementia Action Week, she could still remember what she felt on her first day on the job; “I was terrified!

“I thought I would never be as good as the older staff that took me under their wing.”

Luckily Amanda shook off her self-doubts and quickly realised that she had found somewhere she truly belonged. Within three month she went from carer to fourth officer and then third officer, and a few years later she became deputy manager. But although she has also covered the role of manager on a number of occasions, she much prefers being deputy – “You’re still the head of care, working with the residents every day.”

She added; “When I first started, residential care homes were often run by married couples. I was at the Moat House in Conduit Road, but then I was ‘loaned’ to Southway because the manager and his deputy were married and they both retired.

“I only thought I’d be here for a year, gaining experience and helping the senior team!”

While Dementia Action Week celebrates the work of carers, Amanda admits that it can be a challenging job, but adds “The rewards and job satisfaction far outweigh everything else”.

She believes that anyone looking to work with people who have dementia needs to have empathy, be flexible, and be self-reflective, adding “It’s important you don’t impose your own views on other people.

“It’s not just the carers who are important here, everyone plays a key role, from catering staff to housekeepers. They all enjoy being around the residents, are interested in them as people, and care about their life stories.

“And my manager Jakub is extremely supportive of all of us. We’ve worked together for nearly a decade, and he helps to make this such a positive place, for residents and staff alike.”

There are 42 residents at Southway, and 43 permanent members of staff, six of whom have worked alongside Amanda for 20-plus years. Amanda sees that longevity as a testimony to how much everyone enjoys being at the home.

But often it’s the activities which are the highlight of residents’ days. These can include music, gardening, having pets visit, arts and crafts, knitting, and even having a magician visit.

Amanda said; “Activities are crucial. People need stimulating, in a way that’s comfortable. 

“Music is a huge thing. Everyone can join in, everyone can reminisce. Sometimes people who can’t even speak a sentence will sing along. Every week we have the Tibbs Dementia Foundation come in to do music therapy with our residents – and every week it lifts everybody.”

Cllr Robert Rigby, Portfolio Holder for Adult Services said; “We can all be proud of Amanda for the hard work and dedication she has shown for so many years.

“Along with our many other dedicated care staff across the Borough, she makes a huge difference to so many people’s lives every single day.”

Click here to learn more about Dementia Action Week and dementia.

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