Monthly Archives: August 2014

Devon has one of the highest rates of Dementia in the UK and as the number of people diagnosed with the condition continues to rise, the need for good quality advice relevant to the local area has never been higher.

One Devon couple are on a mission to provide just such a service. Back in April, Elaine and  Norman McNamara set up the Purple Angel Dementia Centre in Paignton to provide advice, and signpost people to dementia services available in the local area. Having witnessed its success first hand, they have now opened another centre in Exeter.

To gain publicity and get the word out, they invited the Torquay Herald Express to report on the official opening:

Judy Spiers opens new dementia drop-in centre

By HEPaulGreaves  |  Posted: August 23, 2014

A NEW dementia drop-in centre inspired by a Torquay couple has opened in Devon.

The Purple Angel Dementia Centre in Exeter was officially unveiled by TV personality Judy Spiers.

It follows the opening in April of the first Purple Angel in Paignton.

The original ‘Angel’ is Elaine, partner of Norman McNamara, who is living with Lewy Body Dementia.

Norman said: “The people who attended the opening were some of the most genuine, hardworking people in the field of dementia I have ever met.

“We had co coordinators from local memory cafes, authors of carer advice books, and also an author of a dementia activities book, a solicitor who will advise on power of attorney, a sister from a local hospital who also runs a dementia friendly holiday home, management of Day Lewis chemist, steering group members of the Torbay dementia action alliance, Purple Angel dementia leadership group, and of course the unstoppable Judy Spiers BBC Presenter who opened it all for us.

“The most rewarding part of the day was when a lady , whose husband has Lewy Body’s type dementia, as I have, came into the centre with her husband and asked for advice. Such a good start. I have long said this is all about working together, sharing resources and putting the person with dementia first. With the coming together of such people it just proves this is the way forward.”

The Centre at Day Lewis Chemists, 88b Beacon Lane, Exeter will be open from 10am till 12pm every Thursday with a volunteer there during these times to answer questions and signpost people to local dementia services.

 The information table will be there six days a week and chemist staff will be more than happy to answer any questions on medication for dementia.

Article courtesy of the Torquay Herald Express, August 23rd 2014

Working as Coordinator at the Sid Valley Memory Café in Sidmouth, Devon for nearly 4 years has given Rachel Johnstone a valuable insight into the needs of people with dementia and their carers and families.

Developing an innovative approach, the café has become much more than just a valued meeting place for those with memory problems and dementia. Visits out around East Devon, and multi-sensory activities drawing on people’s memory of smells, music, objects from the past and visual cues, have all helped stimulate people’s reminiscences on a range of subjects from transport, to entertainment, and the seaside in the past.

As people’s dementia develops however, Rachel acknowledges that families often find it increasingly difficult to engage with their loved one – particularly in a care home setting.Families can have a sense of guilt that they are not doing enough when they visit their relative in the care home. They can feel awkward and they start to visit less and less, and this compounds the social isolation of the resident” she says.

Image - Dementia and the family bbok coverTo combat this and help families enjoy their visits, spend quality time together and build new memories, she has written a book entitled “Dementia and the Family”. In it, she provides ideas for practical and fun activities that families can enjoy together at home or in a care home setting.

“People with dementia may forget facts and things that have happened but still retain all the emotions associated with an event .This means that although they may forget your visit, the positive emotional feelings that your visit engendered – the contentment and the sense of belonging within the family will remain”.

Activities in the book (and there are over 160 of them!) can be tailored to the interests of the person you are visiting, and suggested activities are as diverse as watching older movies together, singing games, playing with old fashioned toys, favourite board games, physical activities (such as table tennis and dancing) , craft tasks and exercises using smell as a basis for reminiscence (such as oiling a cricket bat with linseed oil or brewing coffee).

Alongside suggested activities are explanations about how the activities will benefit someone with dementia, and guidance on how to communicate effectively, as well as how to create a dementia friendly environment.

Also featured is advice on how to talk to children about dementia and include them in the activities, as getting children involved is a vital part of the process, stresses Rachel.

Research shows that having fun with, and being cared for and valued by family members are the most important aspects of well-being for older people. Dementia doesn’t change this.”

“Activities allow the person ‘behind the dementia’ to shine through, create real moments of ‘togetherness’ and provide opportunities for your loved one to do the things they enjoy doing.”

The book takes into account guidelines produced by The Social Care Institute for Excellence for involving family members in the care of loved ones in a care home. While many care homes already  provide excellent programmes of activity for those with dementia, getting family members involved is always advantageous.  This book can really help care home staff and families work together to improve quality of life for those with dementia.

There is nothing more rewarding than seeing people come alive through activities and reminiscence, and witnessing a spark be reignited between the carer and the cared for,” says Rachel. “My work with the Memory Café has, in part, been my inspiration for the book because I have seen, first-hand, how activities allow the person behind the dementia to shine through – and I wanted to help families to recreate their own memorable moments of togetherness.”

“This book will hopefully give families fun, positive things they can do at home – and the confidence and belief in the ways in which they can improve their loved one’s quality of life. People with dementia struggle to do a lot of things – but there is so much you can do to help them.”

“Dementia and the Family” is available from Amazon priced £6.95, through the book’s own website or direct from the publishers, Southgate Publishers, by calling 01363 776888.