Dementia-friendly barber improves care home grooming

Lenny explained how he talks to the residents if they become agitated. Credit: UTV

Northern Ireland’s first dementia-friendly barber is making personal grooming for men in care homes a more enjoyable experience.

Lenny White’s pop-up barbershop has become a regular feature at Bradley Manor Care Home.

He says every day has become so rewarding and a chance to leave an impression on clients inside and out.

“For me, I’ve learned to be patient,” Lenny said.

“Anybody who knows me knows I’m quite fast and never stop, so I’m having to relax a bit more and with the music, it’s more of a relaxed atmosphere.

“Some of the clients maybe get agitated sometimes, I haven’t had many, but when they do I maybe stop and speak them through the process, show them the tools, tell them what I’m going to do and let them know you’re in the barbershop and I’m your barber.”

More than 20,000 people here are living with dementia and for them, even the most simple daily tasks like getting a haircut can be challenging.

But Mary Stevenson from Bradley Manor said that’s only part of the experience.

“It’s not only a haircut, it’s the whole communication that’s involved the reminiscence,” she explained.

Credit: UTV

“The residents who can tell us the stories of when they were younger, would have told us about going down the street into a barbershop, and how it’s a bit of craic with the other men.”

According to the Alzheimer's Society, there are many more people out there with dementia who should be diagnosed.

They said early diagnosis is important because it means some medical intervention can be put in place, but also so people can take the time to plan the rest of their lives.