The Care Collective had a chat with Joanne Grant, one of the Dementia Link Workers from Alzheimer Scotland to find out how their service is supporting local carers.
Can you tell me a bit about Alzheimer Scotland, and how you play your part in supporting local carers?
When someone is diagnosed with Dementia, they are put in touch with our team. For one year, one of our two post diagnostic link workers will work closely with the family to help them adjust to living with Dementia, and plan for the future. As link workers we mostly work with people who are not on medication for their Dementia as those on medication will have a CPN (community psychiatric nurse) who provides support.
By the end of the year, people are hopefully more confident and aware of what’s out there and where they can go for support if and when they need it.
Sometimes it’s the carer who needs more of the support and we don’t actually have much contact with the person with Dementia. A big thing is just trying to support the family or partnership to get the balance right, with the carer not taking on everything. Sometimes people just need a bit of reassurance and validation that it’s ok not to be with them all the time and do your own things. You need that. You need to do your own thing.
We’ll often be speaking to carers about their loved one’s diagnosis. We are just on the end of the phone. People call up to ask all sorts of things. What will I do if this happens, how do I communicate about that. We offer people tips and practical strategies.
Can you give us a bit of an example?
Sometimes it’s just really basic things. For example, a person with Dementia might frequently ask what day it is or what time it is. This can be frustrating for everyone involved, so we might suggest that they get a special Dementia clock. They are great and allow you to have the time, date, year in a very visible place. Initially it takes a bit of getting used to, but it can work for some people.
Richard, our Dementia Advisor takes phone calls from anyone with a question, and is out and about all over the community. He runs various groups, Dementia cafes and education sessions. Through these activities we help people who are living with Dementia to support one another. We now even have a pet café where people can bring their dogs along. The next one is in August.
What kind of difference do you think this makes to people?
When it works well and you can help a family improve their communication
It makes a big difference to get that joint understanding at an early stage. As an outside person who isn’t part of the family, it can be easier to bring up things that might be difficult to talk about and allow everyone to acknowledge that they have different needs. If there is that understanding from that early stage, the family can hopefully move forward in confidence that they have spoken about things and know what each other want and need
Would you like to highlight another person, service or organisation in East Ren that makes east Ren more Carer friendly?
There are lots of good Dementia resources. There is the day centre at The Stables and lunch clubs at local churches. I was just hearing from someone last week that the person who runs the Mearns Kirk Lunch Club is great. His Mum has can’t always communicate very well but they always keep him in the loop with how she has been, and what they’ve done that day. They’ve even been taking photos of her while she is at the club, and sharing them with her son.
I do think the carers centre are good for Dementia carers. They have info sessions and group sessions and carers education sessions that are always well attended.
Is there anything that you would like to see more of?
In general there is much less out there for younger people with Dementia and their carers. Quite a number of people diagnosed are under 65, but at the moment a lot of services are aimed at older people. People who are under 65 might still be working, have younger family, and are generally juggling different things.
What are the little things that you think people could do to be more ‘carer friendly’?
I think that to recognise what people do and really acknowledge what people who are caring give to individuals and communities . They might not think of things as caring because it can be all too accepted that that’s just what you would do. But it’s not just what anyone would do.
You can get in touch with Richard, our local Dementia Advisor by calling
0141 410 5327
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