Charities unite to boost dementia care
Carers from Ukraine, Moldova, Russia and Belarus take time out from their training sessions at Jewish Care
JEWISH CARE and World Jewish Relief have launched a joint project improve the standard of care for dementia sufferers in communities in the former Soviet Union.
Under the scheme, the first group of social care professionals from Ukraine, Russia, Moldova, and Belarus have visited London to receive training from Jewish Care staff and medical professionals.
Nadezhda Terekhova, a welfare programme co-ordinator for the AmericanJewish Joint Distribution Committee in Russia, was one of 14 individuals who attended the sessions.
She said: “Our government does not pay attention to dementia. It doesn’t recognise it as an illness in its own right. It is just seen as part of getting older and not as anything unusual.
“The money from government doesn’t come to us, it is more like propaganda.”
She said it was possible to tackle the issue in Yekaterinburg, a city in the east of Russia, only thanks to the support provided by WJR and Jewish Care.
“Many of the clients who come to our centre have dementia. Being in the UK and visiting Jewish Care has allowed me to see the level that we should aim for.”
Sofia Abramova, chief specialist in social work at Hesed Rakhamim in Minsk, Belarus, said she would help educate people in her community thanks to the training.
“People in society know very little about it,” she said, “but now I know there are small things you can do to help people.
“I have learnt it is about talking to the individual person and finding out how you can support them, because everyone is different.”
Gill Yentis, Jewish Care’s dementia development practitioner, said: “When I first got involved I thought this was a huge challenge — even in the UK it has been difficult to change the culture of care.
“The key to care is working out what people can do for the individual — everyone is different and will need help with different things.”
Ms Yentis added: “This programme has helped me as a practitioner as well. I have learned a lot from the participants and seeing the amazing resilience of staff despite a lack of resources shows a huge potential that we sometimes lack even in the UK.”
WJR in partnership with Jewish Care has been providing on-the-ground training for 500 carers in Jewish communities in three eastern Europe countries for the past two years.
Worldwide figures show that between the ages of 65 and 70, one in 50 people are affected by dementia; between the ages of 70 and 80, one in 20 are affected, and after the age of 80, one in five people are living with the condition.