Dignity in Dementia sees number of people using its services grow during lockdown

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An organisation which supports people affected by dementia says it has seen a surge in interest for some of its services during the pandemic.

Dignity in Dementia provides a range of support for people living with dementia, including everything from one-to-one and group walks to transmitting a weekly reminiscence radio show via Candofm, based in Barrow.

Over the last 18 months, the pandemic has spurred Dignity in Dementia to move many of its activities online, with it conducting singing, poetry and even gardening groups over Zoom.

Lesley Gill, who co-founded the organisation alongside fellow director Diane Smilie, says despite the initial challenge of moving its operations online there have been a number of advantages.

“Our focus is always on maintaining the dignity of people with dementia and their carers,” said Lesley.

“The pandemic gave us an impetus to do things in a new way, which we embraced, and I think we’ve done it very successfully.

“Some of those things we’re going to continue to do. For example, when we did our family carers courses, we always went to a specific location to deliver them. During the pandemic we’ve been running those online. We’re having loads more people sign up to them than we ever did before because they’re happening in the evenings and people don’t have to leave home to travel somewhere.”

Although it is based in Arnside, Dignity in Dementia – which employs six staff and has around 16 volunteers – also delivers its services in West Cumbria, Carlisle and Penrith.

As part of World Alzheimer’s Month, which runs throughout September, Lesley and Diane are encouraging the families of those with dementia to sign up for its free family carers Zoom course.

The courses are made up of four one-hour sessions covering everything from the basics of what dementia is to how to communicate with people with the condition and deal with challenging behaviour.

“It’s all focused on doing things for the emotional well-being of the person with dementia,” says Lesley.

Dignity in Dementia has been supported in its work over the last two years by a £60,000 donation from The Cumberland building society, which will also help fund its work in 2022.

Becky Towns, CSR and communications executive with The Cumberland, said: “Currently, over 850,000 people are living with dementia in the UK, and the number is set to increase, including in our own region. No one knows who will be impacted; it could be a friend, family member, neighbour, customer or colleague.

“For us all to have a better understanding of the disease, can only help have a positive impact in the ultimate aim of changing perceptions and creating dementia friendly communities across the region.

“That’s why we’re proud to support the work of the dedicated team at Dignity in Dementia as it helps so many people.

“It’s great to see that they’ve not only maintained the support they offer people over the last 18 months, but they’ve been able to adapt their services in response to the pandemic and grow their number of users as well.”

Dignity in Dementia’s next Zoom course for family carers will begin on Thursday October 7, running from 7pm until 8pm for the following three Thursdays.

To book a place or find out more information email diane@dignityindementia.org
or ring Diane on 07771 682378.

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