Award-winning writer seeks to highlight positives of care homes

The widow of a Scottish international rugby player aims to highlight the positive experiences of care homes dementia sufferers can have. Lewine Mair is looking to share the benefits after her husband Norman spent the last eight years of his life living with Alzheimer’s and the final two in a care home.

An award-winning writer in her own right, Mrs Mair was married to the man described as "one of the finest sports writers Scotland had ever produced”. He died in 2014 at the age of 86, having been in a residential home where the family were given peace of mind that he was taken care of.

Mrs Mair has drawn on the diary she kept while her husband was at the home to write a book, which also includes anecdotes shared with her by residents and staff. The book is titled Tapping Feet: A Double-take on Care Homes and Dementia, with the name coming from her regular sessions playing the piano for residents.

The family decided it was time for Mr Mair to move to a care home when he started wandering and even left the house unnoticed on New Year’s Eve. His wife described the incident as terrifying and then sought the support of a care home for her husband.

Mrs Mair told The Herald: "The interaction between patients is good, often, there are lovely relationships with the staff. Visitors can make an incredible difference. They love to be chatted to by whoever is coming and going.

“My grandchildren used to go in. Families should let their children go - kids probably benefit, they are only seeing a bit more of life," she added.

Norman Mair played four matches as a hooker for Scotland before embarking on a successful career as a sports journalist, writing about everything from rugby to golf and Highland League football.

Mrs Mair’s book is peppered with heartwarming anecdotes, like the time when her husband went up to the nurse's station and rang the bell as if it was a hotel reception. After requesting a platter, the head nurse took out a notebook and wrote down all the items Mr Mair said he’d like included.

"It started with pate and tomatoes and ended with a bicycle,” Mrs Mair said. "And this lovely nurse said 'Give me five minutes' and he came back with a cup of tea and Norman said, 'Oh, that's just what I wanted' and was absolutely happy and I thought that was so lovely."

Photo credit: Unsplash/Sixteen Miles Out

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