Royal Alfred Becomes A Dementia Friend

A maritime care home has joined the national ‘Dementia Friends’ campaign as part of its on-going drive to both expand its specialist care provision and provide a wider support network for the families of residents suffering from the disease. The announcement comes in the run up to this year’s Dementia Awareness Week (19-25 May 2013), designed to promote greater awareness about the disease and the support available.

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, which opened its specialist care unit in 2011, has enlisted the support of volunteer Ros Ellis who received specialist training to become a dementia ‘Champion’ as part of a nationwide initiative run by the Alzheimer’s Society to create ‘dementia friendly’ communities.

According to the organisation, more than 800,000 people in the UK are living with the condition, with one million sufferers expected by 2021.

Dementia ‘Champions’ are volunteers who encourage others to make a positive difference to people living with the disease by giving them advice and information about the personal impact and what they can do to help.

Mrs Ellis, who has been a tenant at The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society for 2 years, regularly helps at the dementia unit, spending her time with residents in one-to-one sessions as well as being actively involved with social activities such as games and quizzes.

Following the training, Mrs Ellis will use the skills she learnt to help vulnerable residents and their families by introducing a support group for friends and relatives. By lending a listening ear and using the group as a way for family members to talk about their concerns and share experiences, she aims to help reduce the isolation felt by many dementia sufferers and their carers.

She said: “The effects of the disease can have a terrible impact on people’s lives.  I look forward to using the skills that I have learnt to help support the patients and their families and will also be able to pass on the knowledge gained to assist other volunteers at the home.”

The Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, which has existed for nearly 150 years, opened its dedicated dementia centre two years ago after establishing that 40 per cent of its residents were living with some form of the disease.

The society invests in training for staff and employs activity co-ordinators to ensure the best possible quality of life for residents.

Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society Chief Executive, Commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, said: “Ros is a valued volunteer and tenant at the home and we are really delighted that she has agreed to take part in this nationwide scheme.

“Since the unit opened, we have supported many people suffering from the condition and have witnessed first-hand the positive impact that early diagnosis and dementia therapies such as music and reflexology therapy can offer.  Ros’ training increases our commitment to dementia care, creating a new support network family, which we are sure will be welcomed by residents.”

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