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Company News, Scholars Mews, Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire

DIY with Derrick

We don’t paint everyone with a broad brush here at Scholars Mews Care Home, but take an individualised approach to care. Today we wanted to share with you a beautiful story about Derrick Payne, a resident here at Scholars Mews, who has become our honourary Maintenance Assistant after working closely with James Chamberlain, our Maintenance Person.

Derrick’s Life Story

Derrick was born on Ely Street in 1942, local to Scholars Mews many years before it was established. After leaving school, he started a five-year apprenticeship with John Harris & Sons as a painter-decorator. He showed great talent, so after he finished, he continued it as a career.

In 1967, after living in London for two years, Derrick returned to Stratford-upon-Avon and met Susan, his wife-to-be, at the Birmingham Locarno Ballroom in October. Derrick and Sue continued to share their love of 60s music long after the 60s had ended, as they watched 60s bands in theatres all over the country for many years. The happy couple married on 18th October 1969 and later had two children: Mark and Joanne.

Derrick has been a family man and has surrounded himself with close friends all his life, some of whom visit him at Scholars Mews to this day. Derrick used to love going to the One Elm every Monday to play darts with his good friends Derek and Glynn; he has always been very social. He also shared a love of horse racing with his friend John and they would often go to meetings together.

Unfortunately, Derrick had an accident on the job in 2006 when he fell from a 20ft ladder onto hard concrete. He was airlifted by the Warwickshire & Northamptonshire Air Ambulance to the University Hospital in Coventry and was in critical care for 24 days, after which he spent another six weeks in hospital.

Derrick suffered a brain injury, damaging his frontal lobes as well as having severe bleeding and bruising to the rest of his brain. He also broke two vertebrae in his back, but fortunately, he has recovered from his spinal injury spectacularly. However, the unfortunate brain injury has left Derrick with long term confusion and memory problems. Some days he can still be very sharp and remember everything from that day, other days not so much. He will sometimes forget the passing of dear friends and ask to see people who live miles away. On days where Derrick becomes confused, he can become agitated and raise his voice if he feels isolated or trapped. The brain injury can manifest itself in such a way that people misinterpret that Derrick has dementia, but this is not the case.

Moving to Scholars Mews

Sue brought Derrick to Scholars Mews on 27th July 2018 after a stay in hospital due to an unrelated condition, which caused further confusion. Sue felt Derrick would benefit from a stay with us for rehabilitation for six weeks. After the six weeks had concluded, Sue had seen such a positive change in Derrick that she decided it would be beneficial for him to permanently stay with us, enabling Derrick to have a social life again.

Derrick has been a family man and has surrounded himself with close friends all his life, some of whom visit him at Scholars Mews to this day. Derrick used to love going to the One Elm every Monday to play darts with his good friends Derek and Glynn; he has always been very social. He also shared a love of horse racing with his friend John and they would often go to meetings together.

From day one, Sue and Derrick felt at ease with Scholars Mews; the moment Derrick walked through our front door, he recognised an old friend sat in reception, so naturally, he sat and had a catch up with him. Our staff have got to know and love Derrick: having learnt how to communicate with him when he’s feeling confused or agitated. We know he loves a game of dominoes, reading the paper and listening to Barry Juckes sing on each of his visits.

On most visits Sue brings in Bonny, Derrick’s lovely King Charles spaniel, who charges through the front door, dragging Sue shortly behind her. We welcome Bonny with open arms as we know she does wonders for Derrick and his well-being; she certainly makes Scholars Mews feel more like his home. Bonny is an excitable pup that you can’t resist but tickle!
We noticed that Derrick had started to become more upset than usual this June. He would walk up and down the corridor, often with tears in his eyes in a state of confusion and we knew we had to find a way to cheer him up. James Chamberlain, the Maintenance Person and Sharon Wassing, our Home Manager, had the idea to keep Derrick busy with what he knows best: painting!

A Fresh Lick of Paint

Over previous months, the residents had made comments regarding the garden furniture as it all looked a bit drab. James enthusiastically went through to the Verona Suite at our home, where Derrick resides, and asked Derrick to give him some advice about painting garden furniture, including what kind of paint should he use, how should he do it and most importantly, did Derrick want to help? Derrick agreed wholeheartedly! He enjoyed the trip out to Screwfix to get the paint, where we decided on a shade of blue and a shade of green. On the way back James and Derrick decided that you can’t do a job in the garden without something delicious to drink, so they went to Morrison’s and picked up a bottle of bitter shandy and dandelion and burdock – two very nostalgic drinks for Derrick.

Before they got to work, Derrick made sure James put down some dust sheets so they didn’t spill any paint. James poured the drinks and Derrick began to crack on. As soon as Derrick started to paint a bench, he said to James: “I didn’t realise I missed painting this much”.

James was impressed at how naturally painting came to Derrick; he could tell that Derrick had been doing it for years and was so glad that he could give Derrick the opportunity to get back to doing what he’s best at. A couple of benches complete and lunchtime arrived, so James walked Derrick back to the Verona Suite and sat him down for lunch, but Derrick insisted that he was going to keep painting after lunch because he enjoyed it so much.

As soon as Derrick’s fork hit his empty plate, he was ready to get back to work, so James collected him and they cracked on for the rest of the day until all of the benches were a beautiful shade of blue.

Derrick’s smile was enough to show that doing something different but familiar was so uplifting for him; he was out in the garden drinking his favourite drinks with excellent company.

It’s clear to us that Derrick is a man who prides himself on contributing, and he was so pleased to hear the feedback on the benches from both staff and other residents. The benches really make the garden pop. He can sit on them and feel the warm feeling of “I did this”.

Unfortunately, regardless of James’ best efforts to protect Derrick from paint spatter, he managed to get speckles of paint in his hair and some on his clothes. Sharon made sure to apologise about the clothes to Sue on her next visit, and that we were taking our best action to remove any possible staining. Luckily for us, Sue said that she was relieved to see paint on his clothes again as she had been used to it for so many years.

A few days later, once James had finished all of his maintenance checks and had completed all outstanding jobs, so he suggested to get back to work with Derrick, who was delighted that James had thought of him. Unfortunately, it was raining so James as usual went above and beyond for Derrick. James made sure that all cars in the rear of the carpark were staff cars that weren’t due to go anywhere and taped it off, he carried every single wooden planter from the garden to a clear section of the carpark, put a dust sheet down this time and got the brushes ready. James made sure Derrick was wrapped up warm and got him comfy in the car park, drinks to hand and all.

Of course, Derrick was used to working in less-than-desirable weather conditions so it was a breeze for him. Now, thanks to Derrick, we have a fully matching garden. After he had finished the planters he said with much pride: “What a difference it makes putting on a second coat, we’ve done a brilliant job, James”.

A few days after the planters, Derrick made his way to the reception, took a seat and greeted Sharon, saying “If you need me to do any more jobs just let me know”.

Our garden with thanks to Derrick and James.

Now all the furniture popped and made our garden so wonderfully colourful, but something wasn’t quite right… the fence! The gentlemen couldn’t figure out to paint the fence either green or blue, but Derrick had the fantastic idea of painting the outer face of the fence blue and the inward face green, and the team quickly got to work. The pair have worked incredibly hard to make our garden a more visually appealing place for the other residents and any possible visitors to enjoy.

Through all of these fun jobs, the best thing to come of it is the bond that James and Derrick are forming. Whenever James passes through the Verona Suite, he can’t leave without having a chat with Derrick, which is stimulating the important social aspect that Derrick has held so dear throughout his life.

James continues to keep Derrick involved, often going to Derrick for advice (even if he already knows the answer). For example, recently James was going to go to Screwfix to paint over the dried damp on the ceiling in the library and private dining room. To make it as inclusive as possible he asked Derrick to come down and recommend what to use for the job. The pair went to Screwfix to pick the chosen items up and Derrick supervised James as James did the work.

Derrick has also been painting the areas in the corridor around the lifts to improve the common areas. We have now ordered Derrick a maintenance polo shirt and a badge with “Derrick Payne – Maintenance Assistant” on it. With Derrick at Scholars Mews, we know that James will be able to keep up the redecorating of areas in the home.

Thank you Derrick!

(Story written by Christian Oldnall, Customer Service Advisor at Scholars Mews Care Home)