Cornwall Care is the largest provider of care for older people in Cornwall, with 18 homes from Carbis Bay to Launceston, Helston to Bude.
Dementia is a term used to describe a set of symptoms that include loss of memory, mood changes, and problems with communication and reasoning. It is progressive, which means the symptoms will gradually get worse. There are currently 750,000 people living with dementia in the UK.
Douglas Webb, Chief Executive of Cornwall Care, said: “As Cornwall’s largest provider of care for older people, we see first hand the impact of dementia on the lives of our clients and those who care for them.
“This is our opportunity to increase awareness of dementia and to remind everyone there is more to a person than the dementia. Each person with dementia is a unique individual with their own personal experiences of life, their own needs and feelings, and their own likes and dislikes.
“It all comes back to dignity in care, which is at the heart of everything we do. This means treating our clients – and indeed our staff - as individuals, giving them choice, control and a sense of purpose in their lives. It doesn’t take a great deal of effort to make a big difference.
“There are huge opportunities for those living with dementia in Cornwall to socialise, be creative and enjoy themselves. It can be as simple as sharing memories over a cup of tea.
“By raising awareness and encouraging everyone to look at what they can do to support those living with the condition, we hope to help improve the quality of life for our clients and their carers.”
Cornwall Care believes going that extra mile is worth the effort when it comes to understanding dementia, which is why every member of staff – from office and maintenance staff, to carers – is given basic dementia awareness training, from induction onwards.
National Dementia Awareness Week is organised by the Alzheimer’s Society to encourage people to think about the simple things they can do to make life for the people affected more manageable and enjoyable.
Dementia affects each person in different ways, and remembering the person behind the dementia is a vital part of treating them with respect as a valuable human being, despite the illness.
Remembering the person helps them retain their sense of identity and feelings of self-worth and can be as simple as helping them feel valued, calling them by their preferred name, respecting their cultural values, acting with courtesy and respecting their privacy.
Five things everyone should know about dementia are:
1. It’s not a natural part of growing old
2. It’s caused by diseases of the brain, the most of common of which is Alzheimer’s
3. It’s not just about losing your memory
4. It can affect thinking, communicating and doing everyday tasks
5. It’s possible to live well with it
Margaret Lovell is an experienced carer and the lead for My Options, Cornwall Care’s free advice and information service provided to relatives and carers. Margaret said: “We try to help people with dementia to live the lives they want to, but this can sometimes be quite tricky. We need to connect with the person, not the symptoms of dementia.”
The My Options service offers guidance on what services and support may be available, provides practical advice and possible solutions on all aspects of care, ensures people are claiming all the financial benefits they are entitled to and can tailor make a plan of action for a clearer future.
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