As individuals everything about us sends out messages. The way we dress, the way we talk even the way we smell. Our hobbies and interest, our body language and how we interact with other people creates an overall package of information that lets people know what we are about and what makes us who we are. This information enables people to decide if they wish to spend time with us and get to know us at a different level.

With this in mind imagine suddenly not being able to choose how you dress and where you shop or able to wear your favourite perfume/aftershave. Gradually everything that makes you who you are would disappear and you would feel invisible and no longer an individual who is unique in every way.

Having hairdressing available within a Home embraces so many areas of importance.

Many ladies and gents have a routine of visiting their local hairdresser or barbers, so to continue this means that life is continuing as normal. The other important part of having a hairdressing salon is the environment. Making this look sound, smell and feel as much like a hairdressers/barbers as possible. By this I mean having music in the background, magazines to browse through, teas and coffees available, plants and a nicely decorated salon along with appointment books and cards, this creates that feeling of being pampered and being special. Posters and pictures on the wall of ladies and gents displaying their wonderful hair doos all makes a visit to the hairdressers something to really look forward to.

The hairdresser adds huge value to the salon as he or she enables its visitors to interact with someone different and to build a relationship with them that is less clinical than the relationship often shared with carers and nursing staff simply by the nature of the activity. Whilst at the hairdressers the conversation and stimulation from the whole experience encourages wellbeing and a feeling of worth. I have noticed how someone who is perhaps slightly anxious may return from the hairdressers in a completely different place appearing far more relaxed and content.

The fact that staff comment on how wonderful people’s hair looks contributes to people feeling good about themselves and being noticed. I personally feel that we must do all we can to create normality. I would like to share an example of this with you. A lady who uses the hairdressers weekly insists on paying even though this is all payed for by a relative on account. Rather than explain this and perhaps make this lady feel like she is unable to handle money anymore I simply suggest that the hairdresser accepts the payment then places it in an envelope and at an opportune moment I will return the money to her relative. By doing this we are encouraging self-worth and a feeling of ability rather than inability, this is a simple act with a huge value and outcome.

The importance of hairdressing within the care home environment is the same regardless of the fact that someone is or isn’t living with dementia, however as feelings remain throughout someone’s journey when living with dementia the overall value attached to visiting the salon and the way it makes a person feel is priceless.

Vee Hey

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