Vol­un­teers play vi­tal role in spear­head­ing new de­men­tia role

Macclesfield Express - - EAST CHESHIRE HOSPICE -

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

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