In recent years mindfulness has become a hot topic, becoming increasingly popular as mental health awareness grows.

The reported benefits of practicing mindfulness range from improved mental and physical health, to reducing chronic pain, to facilitating recovery from illness.

Since 2017, Karolina Nowadczyk, a Team Leader at our Deerhurst care home, has been helping residents and colleagues learn mindful techniques and has seen her classes benefit many. We spoke to Karolina about her experience.

“I have used mindfulness with residents for years and I have seen first-hand how it minimises their stress levels. I work with people with all sorts of abilities and needs so often adapt what I do. One lady who had advanced dementia found that mindfulness was quite a release, providing her relief in the moment. I was helping her with breathing exercises, so she could relax and reduce her anxiety. We saw a real change in her.”

Karolina has worked for Brunelcare for 12 years and in that time has also trained to become a counsellor, obtaining a level 4 qualification in Humanistic Counselling and level 5 in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. Karolina is passionate about psychology and regularly researches new ways to improve the health and wellbeing of residents.

She has led many projects, which have all been supported by their GP and by Deerhurst’s Manager, Lesley Hobbs.

“One project focused on residents who felt most anxious. The goal was to minimise their use of anti-psychotic medication. To do this we did many things, we brought in animals for residents to stroke, children for them to interact with, we used massage...all to help alleviate their anxiety.”

Karolina has also led Cognitive Stimulation Therapy with the residents and recalls a specific instance where they noticed a change.

“I was taking a group once a week doing different activities on memory, different games. After about 6-7 weeks the wife of one gentleman came to me and said 'I don’t know what you’ve been doing with them but I took my husband shopping today and for the first time in 12 years he remembered what he went to the shops for!'”

After seeing the benefits in residents, Karolina then started running sessions for employees at Deerhurst, so they could benefit too.

“Because we’re so focused on our residents, we can sometimes forget how we feel. It’s important this is available to employees too.”

Karolina devised a 3 hour course which focused on areas such as:

  • How to recognise stress
  • Mindful eating
  • Guided meditation
  • Sharing ideas and research on tried and tested mindful techniques

To date Karolina has led sessions for 24 of her colleagues.

“The biggest benefit is how it's strengthened the team. They’ve become even closer and are working together more.”

Due to the success of the classes Karolina is now reaching out to the wider organisation so everyone at Brunelcare can benefit, with 2 new classes running in September.

“I just want this to be available for everyone, for all members of staff. We’ve seen such a benefit in our residents and employees already. I am excited to continue providing this across Brunelcare.”

For more information about life at Brunelcare, click here: https://www.brunelcare.org.uk/life-at-brunelcare/

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