Totnes Caring has over 120 clients who are living with dementia or caring for someone with dementia and this number is increasing as more are referred by their families and from the local Health and Social Services teams that we work in partnership with. This causes many challenges for them because dementia is progressive and, in addition to affecting memory, dementia affects every part of the brain, so communication, coordination, spatial awareness, the ability to undertake tasks are all deteriorating. For a person living with dementia this often understandably causes fear, anxiety, frustration, loneliness and depression and is desperately difficult for their unpaid carers.
The Totnes Caring weekly memory cafe aims to provide a safe, relaxing space where people living with dementia and their carers can meet, chat, share experiences, build friendships and learn from each other. Approximately 40 people attend each week. From April we wish to provide a programme of fun and stimulating activities, such as singing, dancing, yoga, chair exercises, aromatherapy and games, that make both the clients and their carers can enjoy and look forward to. While their loved ones are taking part in the activities, the carers also have an opportunity to catch up with each other and to receive important information that will help them in their caring role.
Totnes Caring is a well known and well respected locally for supporting older, vulnerable people and has very good links with the local doctors' surgeries as well as with all the relevant local Health and Social Service teams, all of which refer clients. Mary Garvey, our dementia services coordinator for the last 4 years, runs our memory cafe and our dementia support and information services. She was previously Director of Services at the Alzheimer’s Society She has a Diploma in Dementia Studies (Bradford University) and has personal experience of caring for her mother who had dementia.