Korsakoff syndrome is an acquired brain injury related to alcohol misuse. This diagnosis causes problems learning new information, inability to remember recent events and long-term memory gaps.
Memory problems may be strikingly severe while other thinking and social skills are relatively unaffected. For example, individuals may seem able to carry on a coherent conversation, but moments later be unable to recall that the conversation took place or to whom they spoke. The syndrome may sometimes be hard to identify because it may be masked by symptoms of other conditions, common among those who misuse alcohol, including intoxication or withdrawal, infection or head injury.
Recovery care has developed bespoke training for its staff to help support clients with this diagnosis.
Client B, a man in his early 40s with a diagnosis of Korsakoff syndrome.
Client B had been living in a residential home for a number of years and as a result had become very institutionalised. He had lost confidence in his abilities and had developed a phobia about going outside.
He came to Recovery Care requiring a high level of support, this included support throughout the night to help manage his seizures and behaviours. He also required full support during the day to help him with daily living tasks.
Initially B had great difficulty in even making a cup of tea for himself. Because of his diagnosis, B had forgotten the sequencing of steps needed to undertake every day tasks, things like making a cup of tea or making himself a snack. Through the use of repetition and sequencing of tasks staff were able to help him regain his skills and in doing so, his confidence.
Staff discussed his anxieties about going outside and came up with suggestions on what would keep him safe. A plan was agreed whereby B would leave the house with staff support and walk two doors down. This distance was gradually increased over time. After 6 months client B’s skills and confidence increased to the extent that he now leaves the house unaccompanied, he has become more active in the local community, he has joined a church group and undertakes a weekly shop with the support of staff.