My name is Davina Biswell and in December 2017, my husband, age 55, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. A life changing moment for us both, entering a world that was completely alien to us. Words that ring in my ears to this day, are those of the neurologist, who’s second sentence, after giving us the diagnosis was ‘there is nothing more the NHS can do for you. You both have a very hard and long journey ahead of you’.
This one statement made me very scared. I felt totally alone, my husband at this point in his diagnosis was oblivious, or in denial, to this day I do not know which.
Over the next few weeks, I read everything I possibly could about Dementia and looked for places locally that we could go, where we would feel included i.e. dementia cafes, day centres etc. It very quickly became apparent that there was nowhere to suit our requirements.
I attended a Dementia Friends session and then a Virtual Dementia Training session with my friend Stephanie Trayhurn. The Virtual Dementia Session was the most powerful and helpful tool for me as a carer and I wanted everyone, who came into contact, with my husband (family, friends, carers) to experience this, because it was invaluable in understanding what he is going through every day.
Stephanie and I quickly raised money, through a quiz night, to fund a Virtual Dementia Tour Bus and invited family, friends and personal carers of those ‘living with dementia’ We quickly filled the 36 spaces and soon after organised another bus to accommodate the huge waiting list.
From the feedback we received, we very quickly realised there was a big hole in support for dementia in our community. So, we raised further funds and organised a monthly Dementia Café at the Melbourn Hub. The number of people attending increased every week and very soon we were taking over the whole café on a Saturday afternoon. It was the most incredible feeling to watch and listen to the carers and those ‘living with dementia’ enjoying the music, activities, cakes etc. We felt we were making a difference to so many, FORGOTTEN people!
So, we formed Community Support for Dementia to enable us to apply for funding and continue our path. Our objectives are: –
SUPPORT people ‘living with dementia’, their friends, family and personal carers with social stimulation and activities. This will take place in a safe, dementia friendly environment with professionals and volunteers who are experienced in Dementia care. Our aim is to have a maximum of four social gatherings per month each providing a different stimulus i.e. Music, Magic Tables, Pet Therapy, Crafts, Bingo etc etc. All accompanied with tea and cakes!!
AWARENESS by educating people in our community on how they can interact and help people ‘living with dementia’ through the Dementia Friends Initiative. For them to be confident, not afraid, when serving them in shops, cafes, restaurants etc. To show them people can ‘live with dementia’ and still have a quality of life.
TRAINING friends, family, and personal carers in Dementia care through additional Virtual Dementia Sessions, dedicated training sessions on specific subjects, informative leaflets and keeping up to date with research into the disease.
The organisations and people who have supported us to date are: –
The Hub, Melbourn https://melbournhub.co.uk/
Dementia Champions: Lea-ann Smith, Claire Uwins and Samantha Adby
Dementia Training: Chris Elsley, Forget Me Not Dementia Training https://www.forgetmenotdementia.co.uk/
Melbourn Parish Council – http://melbournparishcouncil.co.uk/
Arlington Manor Care Home, Girton, Cambridge https://www.hallmarkcarehomes.co.uk/care-homes/cambridgeshire/arlington-manor-care-home/
Community Volunteers: Vicky Deville, Maria Stapleton
Davina Biswell Stephanie Trayhurn
(07961 574104) (07710 198299)