It’s Dementia Awareness Week and a perfect time to highlight some of our local unsung heroes, those people who make a difference in our communities by putting the needs of others before themselves.
And, to me, some of the real unsung heroes in Doncaster are the dedicated people who care for a loved one who has dementia. Life is invariably hard and often demanding for them and they often feel isolated, not knowing where to turn for help.
In Doncaster we have been working closely with NHS organisations, local authorities and charities to look at ways of giving dementia carers access to information and ideas to help make life a bit easier for them. Tomorrow, we’re launching a new website – www.dementiacarer.net - which promises to be a one-stop local, practical information resource for those who look after a partner or relative who has dementia.
Before developing the site we spoke to around 100 carers who told us they found it difficult to get help, weren’t always sure where to get help from, and often didn’t know what help was available. We think this is a first of its kind site because it includes around 100 short video interviews with carers who talk about how they have developed ways of coping with everyday problems, such as washing and dressing the person they care for. They use the videos to pass on other useful hints and tips, like how to stay positive, active and well, which is really vital for a carer.
The site focuses on four key topics – daily life; friends and family; working with others; and looking after yourself, with each having a theme such as making ‘me’ time, getting help from other people, coping with your own frustrations and accepting help.
It has been given a big thumbs up by Trevor Jarvis, from Skellow, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2001 and now campaigns to improve the lives of people with the disease, supported by his wife Ann. And celebrity Angela Rippon, presenter of the TV show Amazing Greys and an ambassador for Alzheimer’s Society, has also added her support.
Another key source of support for carers are the dementia cafes that the Alzheimer’s Society operate in Askern, Cantley, Conisbrough and at the Trades and Labour Club in Doncaster town centre. Music, provided by charity Lost Chord, is a key element of the cafes, which operate every month. Ring 01709 580 543 for more details and to find out how to become a Dementia Friend.
There’s a lot happening locally to celebrate Dementia Awareness Week. The Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Community Roadshow is at St Sepulchre Street in the town centre today. And at The Point on South Parade, Doncaster, until July 5, there’s an excellent textiles exhibition called Stitched Drawings. They have been produced by Georgie Meadows who uses them to explore her personal experiences as an occupational therapist. Well worth a visit.
* Dr Nick Tupper, Chairman, Doncaster clinical commissioning group