Correct Spectacle Wear - Bobby's Story

Bobby was 52, had suffered a stroke and was living in a care home in Ballymena, Co. Antrim when we were asked to test his eyes.  He had an alcohol related Dementia and we were told that he was prone to outbursts of aggression. Bobby was in a wheelchair but he looked as though he was about 6'4". He had sadly lost the use of his left arm due to the stroke but his other arm was full of muscles with a great big fist on the end. Bobby was a new resident to the home, had little verbal communication and didn't wear glasses.

The test was in many ways straight-forward, we just had to take no notice of his language and keep an eye on his one good fist, but Bobby did great. It took an hour to test Bobby's eyes and it turned out that he desperately needed some strong glasses and without these his view of the world was massively impaired. I chatted to his nurse about this and we all agreed that it was unlikely that Bobby could wear the glasses without pulling them off and breaking them. We couldn't however, test Bobby's eyes, find that he needed strong glasses and do nothing. We had to give Bobby the opportunity to be able to see clearly and if he wouldn't tolerate the glasses at least we knew we had done everything we could. We assumed that Bobby probably broke the glasses.

Six months later we were running one of our interactive training programmes in Downpatrick, Co. Down and were talking about spectacles for people living with Dementia. At this point a care assistant in the front row told us about how we had given spectacles to a gentlemen in the home she worked in and they had caused all sorts of problems. It became obvious that she was talking about Bobby. We explained that Bobby had really poor vision and we couldn't just ignore it and do nothing. We also explained that we all assumed that Bobby would not tolerate his glasses but we had to try. She replied 'That's all right for you, but you don't have to dodge Bobby's punches when we take his glasses of at bedtime.' Bobby never needed his glasses replacing and wore them everyday.

That was 15 years ago and we have since used the story of Bobby many times in our training sessions. So many times that we sometimes feel that we are exagerating. Then last year we were in a care home in Ballyclare and the home manager came up to us and told us how we had tested a young man who she had nursed in a care home in Ballymena, had given him glasses and it had transformed his life. She said she would never forget the difference she had seen after Bobby had got his new glasses. His aggression dropped, his interest in day to day life improved and he became a more independent and self-reliant man. She never thought that something as simple as a pair of glasses could have such a profound effect. Like so many of the people we see, Bobby was a character, a big man with a history. And Bobby deserved the very best.

For more information call FREE on 0800 5878 248