Abbeyfield - living with dementia in the place they call home
This Dementia Awareness Week, older people’s housing and care charity Abbeyfield’s head of dementia innovation, April Dobson, reveals why supporting people living with dementia is significant to her.
Christmas Day 2002 marked a turning point in my own life and sparked a special interest in a subject that I knew very little about. We’d been playing games in the afternoon, full of Christmas turkey. There was a lot of laughter that day. I left the room to go and make tea for everyone and happened to hear my Nan say: “Who is that nice lady? I hope she comes again, she made me laugh’.
The following months and years were very emotional and life changing for all of us. My Nan was diagnosed with mixed dementia and it became increasingly difficult for my Grandad to care for her at home. Their health continued to deteriorate and today, they both live in the same nursing home. I visit them both when I can and although she doesn’t know who I am, my Nan often says “I know you...you make me laugh”.
As well as touching me on a personal level, I have seen the numbers of people living with dementia in older peoples’ accommodation rise dramatically as a professional. I’ve witnessed some excellent care and support, often enabling people to remain living where they want to be, in the place they call home. That’s really what inspired me to learn more and to want to make a difference.
Many of the people we support at Abbeyfield are living with a complex range of conditions, including dementia, and we recognise that dementia can have a profound impact on everyone, not just those living with the condition.
I am extremely proud of the work Abbeyfield does to support people living with dementia and all those affected by it, and constantly impressed by the work of our teams. Every year during Dementia Awareness Week, many of our services run Dementia Friends sessions and other events to help raise awareness of the condition, and this year, to support the work they do, we invited professionals in the field of dementia care to help us in a different way.
In a first for Abbeyfield, we are hosting ‘Great Minds’ - a series of moving, insightful and inspiring films, broadcasts and presentations which will be streamed on our website throughout Dementia Awareness Week (14th – 20th May). Some of the nation’s leading dementia care professionals and people living with the condition are taking part and will be speaking candidly about the effects the brain disease can have upon people, their family and friends, and champion the need for better public understanding and engagement.
Apart from highlighting the issues surrounding dementia, I hope the series will encourage people to talk more openly about dementia and challenge everyone from the public to housing and care providers to really think about what it means to live with the condition.
Abbeyfield will be streaming film footage, interviews and talks from six dementia experts throughout Dementia Awareness Week via www.abbeyfield.com and through its social media networks.
It will be a fantastic opportunity to hear directly from people who are at the cutting edge of influencing and shaping the way people with dementia can be better understood.