By Daniel Bird and Dan Coles
The world’s first specialist dementia trained barber is helping his clients time travel back to the 1950’s thanks to his ‘old school’ techniques.
Lenny White, 38, from Derry, Northern Ireland, spent one year training to become a qualified dementia barber after becoming determined to help those affected by the debilitating disease.
He achieves a calming environment for his elderly clients by ‘time travelling’ them back to the 1950’s with the help of an illuminated barber’s pole, a vintage jukebox and lemon cologne.
Lenny has so far cut the locks of more than 4,000 clients since he started helping them to relive their youthful haircuts three years ago.
Dad-of-five said: “The impact is massive – I don’t just cut hair, I trim noses, eyebrows, ears and facial hair.
“My clients look better and feel better, people come and compliment them on how they look which always has a positive effects.
“My customers with dementia suffer with their memory but they still remember me.
“They come in and say ‘I’ve been here before’ – it’s definitely heart-warming and pulls on the emotions because they remember how I made them feel.
“My training has taught me how to take care of, and act around the clients.
“I also had hands on experience of people with dementia, being an ex-care worker myself.
“Nobody else in the industry seems to be doing this – it’s unique. I have a passion for it and I thoroughly enjoy what I do.”
Lenny worked in a dementia care home aged 17 before going into sales for 20 years.
Aged 35, he decided to retrain as a dementia barber – initially undergoing a two hour ‘Dementia Friends’ course to learn more about the condition.
Now, the 38-year-old is found travelling to specialist nursing homes, day centres, and hospitals as well as to individual clients’ actual homes – setting up his retro salon wherever he goes.
Lenny said: “I set my salon up so I could bring customers back to their youth.
“It just allows them to open about their life, I can find out more about them and in turn – it means they can relax more whilst sat in the chair.
“They get the full service whilst being treated, I give them a good cut, and they get a nose hair trim, and an ear hair trim and a full wet shave – something they wouldn’t normally get.”
Lenny charges £15 every six weeks for his service, although he does participate in voluntary work.
He has just returned from New York, where he volunteered with a missionary to cut the hair of people suffering with dementia.
Lenny, whose 97-year-old grandmother was recently diagnosed with dementia, added: “She has lived the most amazing life and her form of dementia is age related.
“I hope to inspire other barbers to train to help those with dementia as getting a fresh trim really does help them feel better.”