John was successful in his attempts to capture her interest, and their early days were filled with their shared love of dancing and John’s performances in a local band. They’ve have since led a happy life, bringing up three beautiful daughters and enjoying their seven grandchildren and 11 great grandchildren.
When 75-year-old Shirley was diagnosed with dementia in 2011, John was resolute that Shirley wouldn’t go into residential care. John said: “Shirley has looked after me well over the years, I’ve been really spoilt, now it’s my turn to look after her”.
But as her condition deteriorated, things got very hard at home. At the time, John and Shirley attended a Dementia Café and it was there that an Admiral nurse spoke to John and suggested that Shirley try the Older People Day Service at ECL Colchester, Marylands. John commented: “I’ll be honest with you; she really didn’t like it at first but as time has gone on she has settled here. We now treat it as if she’s going off to work and she’s happy with that, it gives her a sense of purpose. She really gets a lot from the nursery room as she loves children. She used to work in a school with the kids in reception and the dolls take her back to that happy time."
Initially John self-funded the time Shirley’s spent at Marylands, however Sherry Mills, the service manager at Marylands contacted social care for John and explained that John was by his own admission, struggling to cope. A social worker carried out a care needs assessment, whilst Sherry and her team helped to steer John through the process. As a result, the local authority now contributes to Shirley’s care and John pays a lot less than he did previously.
Shirley now attends Marylands five days a week and is still living at home. John said “At first I felt that I was letting her down by bringing her here, that I couldn't cope. But I needed something, I wouldn’t be here now if it wasn't for the help of the staff at Maryland. It was getting so hard to keep Shirley at home, but her coming here gives me a lovely break.”