Dementia awareness week: Penrith support group shows people can live well with dementia

There is nothing stopping people living with dementia and their carers from laughing, dancing and singing, that is the clear message from a support group in Penrith that encourages those with dementia and their carers to do just that.

Mrs Gregory, a carer from Appleby who attends the weekly group with her husband who lives with dementia said:

“It is excellent, everyone involved is fantastic and if you have any problems you can ask and they will help you. We come every week, here at the Eden Hub on a Tuesday and at St Andrews on a Wednesday for ‘Singing for the brain’, and I enjoy it as much as a carer as my husband does, everyone is so nice.”

The group is run from the Eden Hub, on the Penrith hospital site, in partnership with Alzheimer’s society and it is advancing the way in which carers and sufferers of dementia are supported here in Cumbria.

Hazel Laithwaite (pictured above), coordinator of Eden Hub said:

“Both the carer and the sufferer of dementia are my clients, we have been running these meetings for three years and it helps clients to know what other services  and support, like Alzheimer’s UK,  are available to them alongside the Eden Hub. It also enables those living with the disease to meet the people who are behind these services.”

One of these services is a group run by Alzheimer’s Society which was showcased at the event that runs three times a week, and shows that there is a life with dementia, and a joyful one at that.

Mrs Gregory added:

“I want to say a big thankyou to everyone who runs this, both the professionals and the volunteers because it is really good and more people need to come and try it, its smashing and no body need be embarrassed, we are all in the same boat”

The group is a partnership built between the Eden Health and Wellbeing Hub (Eden Hub) and Alzheimer’s Society, is advancing the way in which carers and sufferers of dementia are supported here in Cumbria.

As part of dementia awareness week, Eden Hub hosted an event for the public to come and see the services and support that are available to dementia patients and carers.

Carers and those suffering from dementia were led by local music teacher Dawn Smart, who is also a facilitator for the charity, and could been seen dancing, singing and having fun with their loved ones.

Left to Right: Catherine Pattinson (Alzheimer’s Society volunteer), Anne Bell (Alzheimer’s Society volunteer), Sandra Evans, Julie Bancroft (Alzheimer’s Society volunteer) and Dawn Smart.

Sandra Evans, dementia support worker who works with the charity, explained:

“There are more groups now than we have ever had in the area, people get so much from these groups they can get together, chat and have fun! We run ‘singing for the brain’ on a Monday in Keswick which is currently at Keswick Museum and on a Wednesday at St Andrews Church Parish Rooms, and the ‘in the moment’ group runs on a Tuesday here at the Eden Hub

People really can live well with dementia, and do fun things! Any sufferers or carers can come and join in with the groups we run, we do prefer to speak to people first to get to know a little bit about them however they can just pop along if they prefer”

Many members of Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) staff attended the event and shared their thoughts on why events like this are so important; Clare Bennett, senior nurse at CPFT said:

“It is so important that we work with third sector agencies like Alzheimer’s Society, we aim to link in with them to get the best outcome for the person; We only have one aspect of the dementia patient journey, these agencies are a key link in this journey too, we are moving forward to get the best outcome for the patients and thinking about working smarter”

Jennifer Bell, Eden Memory Services community support worker at CPFT continued by saying:

“Agencies like alziehmers society are on peoples doorstep as a non-medical option, we are working in an integrated way to make things easier and more streamlined for the carer, and it’s part of our responsibility to do this”

Support worker for CPFT, Gordon Cooke, also said on the event:

“Today the people who are visiting are either already diagnosed with dementia, or are maybe fearful that they are showing signs of dementia, and by coming to these events they can see that there is a life with dementia and that it is happy one where they can witness the carers and sufferers having fun”

Alzheimer’s Society has been working with Dawn since July 2012 running these groups, and they are keen for more people to come to these groups and receive their support, and know that you can enjoy life with dementia.