Gary Rycroft column: Dementia carers wanting a life more ordinary

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As a local resident I share the concerns of those campaigning against the closure of Altham Meadows Dementia Unit in Morecambe, which if it goes ahead will see the loss of 16 acute dementia hospital beds in this district as services are centralised in Blackpool.

However, there is more positive news for local people living with dementia. Over the last few months two local charities have been working together in an innovative way. Age UK (Lancashire) carried out a three-year research project called ‘Linking Communities’. As part of the research they spoke to people living with dementia and their carers and found time and time again that, as you would expect, carers are often close family members, very often spouses, and one thing which has been lost since the onset of the illness is time together as a couple, rather than being “patient and carer”.

What Age UK found is that just like everyone else people who are living with dementia want to be able to access events in their local community.

I heard about this research and as Vice Chair of The Dukes I suggested the two charities get together to serve the need. So all this year The Dukes have been working in partnership with Age UK (Lancashire) to offer a bi-monthly Journey Café in the Dukes Bar followed by an early afternoon film fcreening. The film screening is part of the usual Dukes Film Programme and is open to anyone.

The environment has had subtle adjustments which include clear signage and the lights being left on the stairs during the film, so filmgoers can move around freely if desired. The Dukes are keen to create an environment where people with dementia feel they can have an enjoyable afternoon whilst being supported and feeling comfortable.

As far as we know this project is unique nationally and it has now attracted funding from the Esmee Fairbairn Charitable Trust to run into 2014. There are also going to be a programme of workshops. The first workshop is on October 21 and the next film screening is on November 18 . More information from Angela Norris, ANorris@ageuklancs.org.uk