Champions step up: Dementia Friends respond to coronavirus

A Dementia Friends Champion in Somerset has been helping people in her community isolated by coronavirus to get vital support.

As measures against coronavirus came into place, some were surprised by how many, strangers and friends alike, stepped up for people in their community who risked being cut off from essential support. 

However, as this included millions of you already involved in Dementia Friends, dementia action alliances and dementia-friendly communities, we weren’t surprised at all. 

Margaret Tatham – a Dementia Friends Champion in Watchet, Somerset, who set up her local dementia action alliance and dementia café – was one of those who saw how they could make a difference. 

Margaret Tatham

Margaret Tatham, a Dementia Friends Champion in Somerset.

Crucial contact 

When it became clear how many people needed to isolate themselves, Margaret knew that maintaining contact and sharing information were going to be crucial. 

‘I’ve been trying to keep in touch, really,’ she says. ‘Any useful information I find out, I send by email to those from our Forget-me-not café and others. 

‘I’m so aware of people who haven’t got email too, so I write letters to send by post or put through their door.’ 

Margaret stressed how Alzheimer’s Society is still here for people affected by dementia, linking them to our Dementia Connect support line and online community, Talking Point. 

Basic needs 

Even the simplest information is vital when people are worried about basic needs. 

‘At first we had a list from the church about which shops were delivering,’ says Margaret.

‘We added as far as we could – pubs, local deli, Indian takeaway – and we made sure everybody knows about the coronavirus community help group in town.’ 

Local dementia-friendly businesses also came through for people isolated by the pandemic.

For example, the Star Inn, a member of Watchet and the Quantocks Dementia Action Alliance, and Richard Little Family Butchers, which recently earned a dementia-friendly certificate, were among those introducing home deliveries. 

Make it personal 

Margaret understood the particular impact of isolation on people affected by dementia. 

‘It’s difficult for all of us,’ she says, ‘but if you have dementia or are a carer, it’s much more difficult. 

‘Everybody has routines, things they do – our café, Singing for the Brain, bowls – but now can’t.

‘It’s harder for people with dementia to find things to do, and I’m not sure people realise how difficult it is for carers to be stuck inside.’ 

Amid so much uncertainty, it’s even more important for people to know that others appreciate and relate to them. 

‘I phone everybody at least once a week. People particularly like it when I phone, they say, “It’s lovely to hear your voice,” “It’s so nice to talk to you.” 

‘I even wave at one couple from the bottom of the cliffs! They absolutely love that. It’s trying to make it personal.’

We need your help

We can’t keep our phone lines open or manage the increase in demand for our services without urgent financial support. Please donate today – with your help, we can show people living with dementia that they aren’t alone.

Donate now

Dementia together magazine: June/July 20

Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now
Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
Subscribe now