DEMENTIA SUPPORT IN THE LOCAL COMMUNITY
The Memory Tree CIC is a not-for-profit organization founded in 2012 by Dr Elizabeth Anderson to bring the knowledge she built up about dementia during her academic career direct to the community. We are based in Shipley, West Yorkshire and at present we have 5 Memory Clubs for local families affected by dementia operating in 5 communities within the Bradford Metropolitan District: Shipley, Idle, Keighley, Low Moor and Burley-in-Wharfedale.
What is a Memory Club? Our Memory Clubs run on a ‘Time Together – Time Apart’ model which was born out of consultation with family carers who told us that what they particularly wanted was a local place where they could go together with their loved one but still get some time apart. Our meetings last for between 1.5 to 2 hours; during the first half we all enjoy informal chat together over a cup of tea and refreshments, but in the second half we divide into two groups so that structured Memory Support sessions, based around reminiscence, simple activities and singing, can be enjoyed by the people with dementia, whilst the carers retire to an adjacent room for a meeting chaired either by Elizabeth or a trained volunteer (often a former carer) where they can share experiences and advice with one another in comfort and confidence. Our Memory Clubs are run by local volunteers and former carers, supported by Elizabeth, Bob and Andrea at The Memory Tree office (see ‘Who Are We’ for more details).
How often do Memory Clubs meet? Memory Clubs meet twice a month – see ‘Where Are We?’ for full details of all our venues and meeting patterns.
Who is a Memory Club for? A Memory Club is for the person with dementia to come with their carer to find support, advice and companionship in their local community. We are unable to take people with dementia on their own unless the dementia is very mild and we have had a conversation with the main carer first, either in person or on the phone. Memory Clubs are best for people in the mild to moderate stages of dementia. Because our groups are run by local volunteers, who are not trained to meet complex care needs around moving and handling or personal care, this can limit our ability to support people safely in the more advanced stages of dementia. In general we have been able to support people into the more advanced stages if we have built up a relationship with them and the carer during the early years of the condition, but if people first come to us when the dementia is advanced this is much more difficult. Thus, we advise people to come to a Memory Club sooner rather than later in the condition – the best time to join is the time when you don’t need it yet. People with severe sensory impairments, or severe anxiety/depression, in addition to the dementia may find it hard to settle into a Memory Club because our activities revolve around talking together in small groups of between 6 to 12 people, so we may not to be able to meet the needs of people with these additional challenges.
How do I join? If you think a Memory Club might be for you and you would like to find out more then please ring or email Elizabeth to arrange a trial visit: 01274 583364 / email@example.com Can I help? If you are a potential volunteer and would like to get involved then Elizabeth would like to hear form you – please contact her using the details above. We are also in need of financial help to keep our Memory Clubs running – please go to ‘Support Us’ to find out how you can give.
Some comments from Memory Club members:
- “My mum really enjoys her Friday afternoon sessions.”
- “If the club was closed this would leave a gap in our support.”
- “Dementia is a terrible illness and we need someone to help and turn to.”
- “If the club was closed I would miss the support and friendship.”
- “I particularly value the pleasure of being with people who know and understand the problems.”
- “In the carers group we have time together to laugh or to cry with others who really understand what it is like.”
- “This is the only place my husband will let me bring him.”