Our 40th anniversary is a turning point as we roll out Dementia Connect. We meet volunteers transforming the lives of people affected by dementia through our new service.
Read this story in Welsh
Since 1979, millions of people have received vital information, advice and support from Alzheimer’s Society. However, far too many still don’t have the help they need when they need it.
We want to reach everyone affected by dementia. Dementia Connect, our new service, links people to the right support, at the right time, in the right way.
Just as the Society was set up by determined volunteers, it’s volunteers who are key to making Dementia Connect work.
Keeping in touch
Support from Dementia Connect changes as things change, and it can be in person, over the phone, by post or online.
When someone is first in contact with us, we see how we or anyone else can help right then. But our KIT (keeping in touch) volunteers also call back at agreed times to make sure we know when they might need something else.
‘We check in with people to see whether any support is required and how they are doing in general,’ says Rhiannon Peters, a KIT volunteer in Neath Port Talbot, south Wales.
‘We check in with people to see whether any support is required and how they are doing in general,’ says Rhiannon.
‘I am able to signpost or refer them to local services, send them useful information or help them receive further support if needed, such as a home visit.’
Some people may need to be in touch quite often, but we might not have spoken to others for a few months.
‘A lot can change in this time,’ says Rhiannon, ‘and my role is to ensure people continue to be supported.’
Rhiannon adds, ‘Even when there are no particular issues, people are grateful to know where they can get support if needed and appreciate having somebody to talk to.’
Side by Side
Our Side by Side service is another important element of Dementia Connect. For a person with dementia who needs that bit of extra support, a volunteer helps them carry on doing the things they love, whether that’s hang-gliding, seeing the football or tea and cake.
‘It’s affecting so many people. I just wanted to do something to help,’ says Sue.
Sue Lysons in Colne, near Burnley in Lancashire, has experience of dementia within her own family. She volunteered for Side by Side to make a difference for others.
‘It’s affecting so many people,’ she says. ‘I just wanted to do something to help.’ Norma doesn’t like to go out alone, but Sue’s visits means she can get out to the shops or for a spot of lunch, all in good company.
‘I’m getting to know her,’ says Sue, ‘building up a picture of her likes and dislikes.
‘Norma bumped into someone she knew while we were out and she introduced me as her friend. She has a big beaming smile every week, and always says, “Thank you very much.”’
James Smith, a Dementia Adviser in east Lancashire, started out at the Society as a KIT volunteer.
‘Without the work of volunteers, we simply would not be able to reach as many people,’ says James.
‘As dementia advisers, we always seek to help people to develop practical and emotional strategies so they can manage the challenges they are facing. In this role, we need the support of a wider team.
‘Without the work of volunteers, we simply would not be able to reach as many people who need Dementia Connect.’
Find support near you
Dementia Connect isn’t yet available everywhere in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, but you can use our Dementia Directory to find support near you.