Volunteers play vital role in spearheading new dementia role
THERE’S more to being a volunteer than simply helping others, according to one Macclesfield helper.
Alan Ashworth, 67, has been a volunteer with East Cheshire Hospice for five years and admits that he gets more back than he gives.
“It’s just such a happy place to be that it brings me a lot of joy,” said Alan.
“The fact that I’m describing a hospice as ‘happy’ might sound strange to some people who associate a hospice with death and dying, but I even miss it when I go away on holiday and can’t wait to be back”.
Now Alan and other volunteers will be spearheading a brand new service at the hospice – the Dementia Carers Well-Being Service, which launches next month.
The service will offer respite and practical support to carers of those with dementia as part of an eight-week structured programme helping carers to develop their own coping strategies and to meet others in similar situations.
Alan will act as a dementia ‘buddy’ looking after those with dementia while their carers attend the well-being sessions in the hospices’ Sunflower Centre.
He has already taken part in a one-day training course to help him better understand the causes and symptoms of dementia – something that is quite close to his heart.
“A close friend who I’ve known since school days was diagnosed with dementia about five years ago and is now in a nursing home,” says Alan. “The course really helped me understand much more about the condition and how it impacts on the brain.
“For example, a shadow on the ground may appear to be a looming hole to someone with dementia, causing them to be afraid or unsettled. That’s something I just didn’t appreciate before the course”.
Alan, a semi-retired painter and decorator, doesn’t just limit his support to volunteering and donates an amount from every painting job he does to help with the work at the hospice to develop services like Dementia Carer Well-Being.
“The work at the hospice is wonderful and the help this service will give to the carers of people with dementia is really important, so I like
‘It’s such a happy place to be, it brings a lot of joy’
to do my bit,” he says.
The group sessions for carers will include information and guidance on a range of subjects including financial and benefits advice, relaxation techniques, dietary and nutritional advice, peer support and the value of complementary therapies.
The new Dementia Carer Well-Being Service is urgently seeking volunteers to care for dementia sufferers to allow their full-time carer to attend a group session.
Anyone wishing to help needs to be free to attend training on October 15 and volunteers are being asked to commit from 2.30pm to 5pm each Wednesday for an eight-week period beginning on October 28.
The new service is free although donations are welcome and there will be further eight-week courses during 2016. ●● TO find out more about becoming a dementia buddy, contact Fiona Letts, volunteer coordinator, on 01625 610364.
●● Alan Ashworth