Dementia carers' service issues call for new volunteers

Could you offer your time and support to become a friend or buddy?

Dementia carers' service issues call for new volunteers
22 September 2014

Fe Franklin, project co-ordinator of CPFT's Dementia Carers' Support Service, wants more people to come forward to help care for the carers:

Let’s get straight to the point.

I need your help, my organisation needs your help, and hundreds of people across Cambridgeshire need your help.

My colleagues and I run the Dementia Carers’ Support Service which is part of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust. Since we launched, we’ve been providing volunteers to help support those who are caring for loved ones with dementia. But we need more.

There’s an incredible amount of research going into dementia – much of it led locally by CPFT – and we live in hope of a dementia-free future.

But for now it remains a huge issue. The Alzheimer’s Society says that by 2015 there will be 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, while Alzheimer’s Research UK states that Alzheimer’s and other dementias affect nearly 7,500 people in Cambridgeshire.

It is also thought there are nearly 700,000 carers of people with dementia in the country, and their incredible work saves taxpayers £11 billion a year.

Everyone’s experience of caring will be different, but there’s no doubt it’s a huge challenge, and often the question is asked: who cares for the carers?

Well, that’s why the Dementia Carers’ Support Service exists. We are there to link carers to a friend or buddy to offer emotional, social, practical and informational support.

We have previously looked for people with experience of caring for those with dementia to become a volunteer.

However, that doesn’t always have to be the case. What is far more important is that our volunteers are good listeners.

We know that those who care for people with dementia can often feel isolated, and as they go about the daily caring tasks, they can miss out on normal conversations. Many carers will understand when I say that when you’re looking after a loved one or a friend with dementia, the conversations can be a bit ‘one-way’.

And that’s where our volunteers come in. Something as simple as a quick chat about the ‘outside world’ can be a lifeline.

But we’re always looking for ways to improve what we do, so it may be that some carers don’t need someone to speak to but would rather converse with one of our volunteers via email.

In return, we offer our volunteers regular support and supervision, we pay travel and telephone costs, and – above all – the chance to help others.

You can find out more about our service by going to www.cpft.nhs.uk and searching for Dementia Carers’ Support Service or by calling  me or my colleagues, Sally Kitchin or Terry Dellar, on 01353 652092.

If you can help, please get in touch. Your call will be great news to us, and to carers in Cambridgeshire.

*This column was written for the Health section of the Cambridge News - Monday, 22 September 2014 

Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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