August 5, 2021

Newyddion Cymru Ar-Lein : Wales News Online

Newyddion Lleol a Chenedlaethol Cymru – Local and National News for Wales

A first-of-its-kind North Wales Dementia hub is the dream of two committed women pushing for a charity-owned “centre of excellence”.

Based on Quinton Hazell Enterprise Parc, Colwyn Bay, it isn’t where you’d expect to find this oasis of calm, run by the Carers’ Trust for those suffering dementia and their carers.

Comfy settees, soft furnishings and other thoughtful touches help you quickly forget you’re on an industrial estate on the edge of town.

It exists solely to help those whose contemporary memories are agonisingly deserting them, as well as those forced to witness this excruciatingly unfair disease progress in a loved one.

Dementia affects approximately 42,000 people across Wales according to the NHS.

Gwenno Davies and Alison Jones

This means at least 10,000 (plus their carers) in North Wales have to manage it, based on our share of the population.

However in this region there are statistically more people over 65 which increases the likelihood of more dementia sufferers again.

Getting the right treatment, help, advocacy and support is hard enough, even with the support of a loving partner, as many carers believe there’s a gap between diagnosis and times of crisis.

A labour of love it may be but it’s tough, rewarding, gruelling, poignant, repetitive and sometimes, yes, maddening in equal measure.

In fact, for those who care for someone with dementia, it often feels like they’re left to figure it all out for themselves after a diagnosis – and this is where the Carers’ Trust steps in.

They offer advice, groups, dementia cafés, training, support to access social activities and, perhaps most importantly, emotional support.

They do this through their home visits, where they deliver information, advice and assistance for people living with dementia, their carers and their family immediately post diagnosis, through peer support in their Taith Ni groups and via one-to-one support for carers and those cared for.

Sat in those comfy chairs Alison Jones, CEO of the Carers’ Trust which runs the project, and the inspirational Gwenno Davies, ex-nurse and not someone who takes “no” for an answer when it comes to getting a fair deal for those with dementia or their carers, explained how they got started.

Gwenno said: “In 2016 Betsi Cadwaladr tendered the service out – we offer post diagnostic support to everyone who has been diagnosed in memory clinics.”

Both women praised the health board for handing the money out so they could provide the service.

“The aim is to give people with dementia and their carers somewhere to go,” said Alison. “They just come and someone will say ‘come and have a chat or a cup of coffee’.”

“If you’ve got cancer in North Wales you will travel and get support from nurses,” explained Gwenno. “Dementia, we’ve got nothing. You get diagnosed and you get discharged – it’s only crisis intervention you get.

“Some of these people are five years into their journey and the reality is dementia is incurable and we live with it.

“Without the support of services like ours there’s nothing until a crisis arises.”

The dream is to extend their reach via a central hub with satellite offices in the east and west offering the same services, like a one-stop-shop, and ending the “post code lottery” for dementia sufferers and their carers.

It would be a fully-fledged North Wales Dementia Centre and centre of excellence, offering advocacy, financial advice, chiropody, hairdresser, manicures as well as blood and urine tests even vaccinations.

The dream is to have everything a carer and those cared for need under one roof, consistently applied across all of North Wales, and they are eager to get funding to make it a reality.

At present after someone has been referred, the Carers’ Trust arranges a home visit anywhere across North Wales by one of four specially trained staff.

As well as advice on the road ahead they hand out practical items like dementia-friendly day clocks and whiteboards, on which carers are encouraged to write down where they are in case their loved one forgets.

It’s those little things which can make life easier for carers and those with the disease and comes from listening to what they have to say.

Alison revealed: “Whatever we do it’s by consulting with our members. We don’t want to dictate what they want or what they are getting. It’s not our service, it’s theirs.”

“People who come here are members,” explained Gwenno. “Not service users, not clients.”

At the centre time is not just put aside to give those with dementia some mental stimulation and physical activity, giving space to their carers is just as valuable when they attend the Taith Ni group.

Guest speakers and training sessions give tips on dealing with the pressures but one gets the sense from carers themselves, speaking to others in the same boat is equally valuable.

Carer Ian Clark visits the centre with his wife Viv and he said the camaraderie has been a “lifesaver”.

He spoke about problems getting organisations to understand he has to speak for his wife, from utilities to getting her medicine.

“You learn from people who have been through this,” he said. “It took sending a letter to our Senedd Member to get Viv’s medication from the local chemist.

“I used to have to get it from the memory clinic – she was supposed to give them 10 days notice and you cannot do that when you have dementia.”

Ken Moore, who cares for his wife Anne, said what the Carer’s Trust wants to achieve is the way forward.

He said: “What we could do with is a one-stop-shop as more and more people are going to get dementia.”

Ian added: “If they can do a one-stop-shop for bereavement why can’t they do it for dementia?

“The coroner lets everyone know when someone dies.”

Gwenno added: “Carers need to be listened to – on the job qualifications are what these people have got.”

You can contact the Carers’ Trust:

Call: 01492 542212

Email: northwales@crossroads.org.uk

Visit their website: www.nwcrossroads.org.uk

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