Meet The Barber Who’s Proud To Have Such Special Clients.
Jim Gray used to strap on boxing gloves and fight, and some of those fights were against Germans. He’s quick to tell his stories about it quite often. His buddy, Lenny White, has heard all those stories before, and each one many times. Because Jim has dementia, and repeats his stories. But that’s OK with Lenny, a 37-year-old barber who considers Jim one of his best friends.
Lenny had worked in care homes for several years before he became a barber. He finally felt that’s what best suited him in life. But Lenny also missed caring for the elderly. He recalled how hairdressers would come into the homes and take care of all the female residents. So he wondered if maybe he could use his barbering profession in a care home for the men there.
He called up a local care home and asked them about it, and, very quickly, officials there were completely on board with their male residents having a barber come in. And the deal was done.
Lenny even brings in his own barber pole, and even a jukebox. And all the male residents there feel very comfortable around Lenny.
Soon after his job at the home, the Alzheimer’s Association reached out to him and offered some training on how to better deal with residents suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s.
Says Lenny: “I’ll maybe turn the music down. I’ll talk to them quietly. I’ll bend down to their eye level, [and] I will say, ‘This is Lenny, I’m a barber. I’m here to cut your hair’. I will show them my tools, and then touch is very important — that seems to settle them. I’ll maybe even hold their hand while I’m shaving them with the other hand.”
And now, Lenny’s card is full, as he visits 55 homes throughout Northern Ireland, Ireland and England. And he’s now known at the homes as Lenny, the world’s first dementia-friendly barber.
Adds Lenny: “Some of them are in their final stages. Every six weeks I return to a different care home. We find out that Jimmy isn’t there, that Sammy’s gone. But, how I deal with that is I just try and be positive that I’ve done these men proud, that they’re looking good. I am these men’s last barber, and that’s a privilege.”
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