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RotaryThe Challenge of Dementia No. 5

We hear talk about the government’s new 10 year plan for the NHS and the difference it may make to the treatment we receive. Meantime we need to take some responsibility for our own health. By watching our diet, avoiding smoking and alcohol, keeping our cholesterol and blood pressure in check, staying physically and mentally active, we can reduce the risk of many diseases, including dementia.

When it comes to dementia, however much money is pumped into the health service, there is sadly, as yet, no treatment to slow the progress of this disease. The NHS is frustrated by being unable to offer much comfort to those living with the condition. Yet without proper support, sufferers can become considerably worse, with the knock-on effect that a rapid decline can have on those around them.

While we wait for improved social care, we should all take some responsibility for supporting those who, through no fault of their own, are dealt the dementia card. We need to learn how to support those in need and perhaps resolve to improve the tools we have to help others.

However, there is a limit to the skills we can acquire and specialist support is essential. I have already described the enormous help both clinical and otherwise that specialist Admiral Nurses provide through their national helpline and hopefully, one day, face to face.

Having supported Dementia Harborough last year, and because I have seen the positive impact  that VASL  (Voluntary Action South Leicestershire) and Dementia UK Leicestershire have on people I have come across locally, I chose these two charities as beneficiaries of the Rotary Club’s Trolley Dash last December. The event raised over £1,500.

VASL is based in Market Harborough. Its general manager, Maureen O’Malley is passionate about the wide variety of support they provide. Through her, I met Kerry Turnbull, who has many years of experience supporting those with dementia and their carers.

She explained:

“They give information on dementia and will carry out an assessment with the carer to identify the support required. A referral is made to the Alzheimer’s society and social services for a care package, if required.

They may need to discuss/advise on Continue Health Care and can also make referrals to ‘Care Home selection’ which supports people through the residential/nursing home process.

VASL offers emotional support and advice through its telephone line, including a befriending service which gives the carer a chance to talk about day to day subjects that can no longer be discussed with the person they are looking after. They also have carers’ groups, which can look at what support might be needed at home in order for the carers to get out and have some time to themselves.

Once a carer is registered with VASL, it will support and guide them through the challenges and difficulties they may face, including such emotional issues as feelings of guilt, stress, frustration and exhaustion.

We never close a case until they let us know their caring role has ended, and are always just a phone call away ready to listen, help and support in any way we can.”

To contact VASL ‘Support for Carers, Leicestershire’ tel 01858 468543.

Some other useful links are:

Admiral Nurses - www.dementiauk.org
VASL newsletter - www.supportforcarers.org/newsletters
Alzheimer’s Society - Google ‘Alzheimer’s Society Carers Support Group - Harborough Drop-in’
Dementia Harborough - www.dementiaharborough.org
AgeUK Oadby - www.ageuk.org.uk/oadbyandwigston
Dementia Action Alliance, lots of local information - www.carechoices.co.uk/publications/dementia
To contact me, please do so by email grahamapt@btinternet.com.

Click here to read more articles in the series 'The Challenge of Dementia' by Graham Thompson

Graham Thompson
Kibworth & Fleckney Rotary
Issue 408
January 2019

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