DEMENTIA TOGETHER FREE HELPLINE: 08081 688 000
The helpline will continue to be available seven days a week for continuous support throughout this difficult time.
Dementia Together Navigators will also be able to complete a detailed assessment over the phone offering support, education and a listening ear to you throughout this difficult time.
Dementia Together was commissioned in 2017 by both Suffolk County Council and the East and West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Groups. The service was set up as a single point of contact for people living with dementia and their families. The service aims to ensure that people receive the right information and support at the right time.
People do not need to have a diagnosis to access the service. Anyone concerned about their memory or their relatives, friends or neighbours can contact the Dementia Together helpline. The helpline operates Monday to Friday from 9am to 6pm and also weekends and bank holidays from 10am to 4pm.
Dementia Together is continuing to offer as full a service as possible at this very difficult time. The helpline remains operational seven days a week from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday and 10am to 4pm on Saturdays, Sundays and bank holidays.
The service also consists of navigators who work in communities across Suffolk. During normal service navigators visit people in their own homes and help them to access support in their local communities. During the coronavirus crisis home visits are no longer taking place. Navigators are working from home and telephone and/or online video calls are offered instead.
Navigators continue to keep in contact with service users, providing information and offering extensive emotional support at this time. Service users are being linked to local community networks which are offering help with shopping, collecting prescriptions and welfare calls. The current lockdown is having a huge impact on people living with dementia and their family carers. Community groups and day services which had provided an invaluable lifeline are now closed. The helpline is also receiving lots of calls from families who live far away and are concerned about elderly relatives.
Dementia Together will continue to deliver as much support as possible to people living with dementia and their families throughout this time of unprecedented crisis.
There are very particular difficulties that are being experienced by people living with dementia and their families at this time. For example, people living with dementia may not be able to retain new information and thus forget they have been told that we are in the midst of this crisis. Constantly trying to explain the current situation to someone living with dementia can cause stress not only for the person living with dementia, but also their family carers.
Service users are encouraged to take steps to look after their own health and well-being at this time. Keeping in contact with friends and families through telephone, FaceTime or Skype is important. Many calls into the Dementia Together helpline are for information on ways in which families can ensure that the person living with dementia is kept active mentally stimulated.
The Dementia Together helpline and navigators are giving lots of information on meaningful and creative activities such as reminiscence, music, dance, exercise, games, baking and many other activities that people can try. Watching films together can help too and trying to maintain a routine can be reassuring for someone living with dementia.
Current government guidelines are that people can go out for one walk a day as long as they keep a safe distance from others. Great for those fortunate to live in the countryside, however even in towns people can still get out into their gardens, perhaps for a walk around the garden, gardening, planting seeds, bird watching or simply enjoying the outdoors. We had a caller into the helpline who the navigator talked to as they were having a picnic in their garden summerhouse. The helpline have lots of information and ideas about activities that people can try at home.
Age is the biggest risk factor for dementia, however many younger people under 65 also develop dementia. In Suffolk we have a Younger Person’s Dementia Network specifically for people under 65 and their families. This group normally meets around the county monthly on Sundays. Up until recently they have enjoyed taking part in various activities including foot golf, ceramic painting, visits to Museum of East Anglian Life and a visit from Bert’s Amazing Creatures. New and innovative and fun ways are being sought to continue with the network. Members will be taking part in a quiz through zoom.
For further information and support please contact the Dementia Together helpline on 08081 688 000 or email: [email protected]
Lead Navigator, Judith Goldsmith