Dementia in Sturminster

Volunteering in Sturminster

It never fails to amaze me how many people in Sturminster are giving their time energy and often empathy to different charitable causes in this Town. Before I go on to single out those in the rest of this blog let me say just how admirable their collective efforts are.

There are drivers taking the elderly to hospital appointments, ladies and gents supporting the scouts, the youth clubs and choirs, church goers offering a one to one connection to those in difficulties of whatever sort, people concerned with giving our children access to books and quality reading skills, the list really is endless.

Helen Lacey gets the networking going

Alzheimers and Sturminster

Last week the Mayoress Helen Lacey used her good offices to try to bring together people in the town and wider afield, where they hold a paid statutory post, who are concerned with helping those in our community struck by Alzheimer’s or dementia in its broadest sense and as importantly their carers. Her main aim being to enable these people/groups/ charities to network with one another and raise their collective awareness of the Dementia care services and sources from whence they arise. Her aim was to start conversation between these various sources enabling them to discuss practical matters surrounding making these services available to their target client base where and when needed at the time that need arises.

Over 60 professionals and volunteers sat down with partners for a series of Speed networking sessions.

Everyone present was amazed at the sheer number and variety of services focused on our target group. Many were struck by how unknown to each other they were. Many had great insights from past experience personal and professional into the sheer practical difficulty of getting elderly dementia sufferers into the care and support network.

To give a typical example from a care provider working in Sturminster.

“Just think, you are 85, your husband/wife of some 82 years has late stage dementia. Both of you have mobility difficulties. You desperately need and deserve some respite and a day centre caring for your spouse would be the obvious solution and place to start. But the centre (there isn’t one in Sturminster – yet – but  let’s say there is) is 5 miles by car. You don’t have a car since you gave up driving two years ago because of poor eyesight. So much for respite. You need to get to the shops twice weekly but you can’t leave your spouse so have to take them with you. The walk down Sturminster High Street is hazardous even for a nimble gazelle so imagine the difficulties you might face walking past Candies with a late stage physically less able dementia sufferer? I know they should get their groceries over the Internet but our carer has never seen sight of a pc let alone knows how to use one for such a complex task”

This couple could arguably should have access to a number of care resources but in truth only those delivered in their own home are readily accessible.

Solving this practical challenge of how to deliver professional and voluntary services to those most is one area the day covered. Solving the challenge of making the patient and their carer aware of the services actually available to them was seen to be as big an issue. Often the professionals who are visiting in home will signpost the couple to particular providers, occasionally going as far as arranging a chiropodist or hairdressing in the home. But each of them only knows of a few providers because  there’s no central database recording this provision, few or no resources to manage it and make sure it’s information is up to date, even if it existed and  no reliable ways of publishing it so that carers and professionals alike are fully informed.

Our various groups and network meetings discussed these points and whilst there were no magic answers to hand there was a strong resolve to work on the problem. We did all agree that the conundrum is  frequently resolved by the kindness of neighbours and professionals and volunteers all rallying round but it can be a hit and miss affair sometimes leaving carers feeling isolated and ‘on their own’ particularly where they have no immediate blood relatives living nearby. We all resolved to work on this issue to try and make things go better in the future. Anyone reading this and with ideas in this area should email them to me at [email protected]

Everyone agreed about how useful the meet was and agreed to meet again in the near future.

Simon Hoare gives a vote of thanks

The event was closed by a short vote of thanks to Mayor Helen and the organisers given by none other than Mr Simon Hoare MP for North Dorset.