Love is in the hair: Care home helps resident rekindle hairdressing passion

RCH Care Homes

The care home helped Stuart reconnect with his glamorous hairstyling career - Credit: RCH Care Homes

This Dementia Action Week, Brentwood and Romford care homes are showcasing the work they do to help residents reignite their former passions.

One resident at RCH Care Homes used to be a renowned hairstylist but finding out about his many achievements was a challenge.

The dementia team at RCH says understanding what a dementia patient did and who they were "can be like piecing together a jigsaw puzzle".

They often speak to family and friends to find out, but this isn’t always possible.

RCH Care Homes

Hayley adds: “Watching Stuart use the block head to show off his hairdressing skills makes my job all the more worthwhile" - Credit: RCH Care Homes

When Stuart moved to the Dementia Nursing and Residential Home based in Romford in the spring of 2020, they relied on the many possessions that Stuart brought with him. 

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While getting to know him, lifestyle coordinator Hayley Sullivan noticed the numerous awards, certificates, framed pictures and photograph albums crammed with images of very unique and glamourous hairstyles.

After some further research, the team discovered that Stuart’s profession was hairdressing and he'd had a successful and award-winning career, showing off his skills and artistry at numerous fashion and trade shows, including a number for L’Oréal.

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Hayley said: "Though he was unable to tell us the details about his career, it obvious from his emotions that he was very proud and still very passionate about the incredible elaborate creations he was responsible for creating throughout his career.”

Stuart was a high-flying hairstylist

Stuart was a high-flying hairstylist - Credit: RCH Care Homes

Stuart and Hayley spent many afternoons looking through his portfolio, bringing him a professional "block head" so he could create new styles.

Hayley added: “Watching Stuart use the block head to show off his hairdressing skills makes my job all the more worthwhile. To see the look of joy on his face and how much it brings him alive when he is doing what he loves best is breathtaking.

"It really is so enjoyable to sit together and look through his photo albums, I would have loved to see some of his shows in real life.” 

The next step was to introduce Stuart to the home’s own beauty salon, with the support of its own professional hairdresser.

Now he invites residents to visit his in-house salon

Now he invites residents to visit his in-house salon - Credit: RCH Care Homes

Now, every Thursday, Stuart can be found assisting the hairdresser, helping with styling tips and giving the "salon experience" to other residents. 

Dementia Action Week 2021 runs from May 17 to 23.

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