Improve post-diagnosis support in Northern Ireland

Learn about the 5 priorities for action in Northern Ireland.

Give people access to a Dementia Support Worker from the point of diagnosis.

All forms of dementia are complex and have differing but profound effects on the person and their family carers. Having support from a person with expertise in dementia and who knows what services the person may need as their condition progresses, improves quality of life and can maintain welfare for longer.

Dementia Support Worker Valerie Guthrie helps people cope with the impact of a new diagnosis and supports them as they plan for the future.

‘Sometimes the family is in shock and just take the written information home to read,’ she says.

‘But most people are quite eager to talk and are even relieved to have the chance. In some cases they’ve been living with the effects of dementia for some time. Getting a diagnosis makes sense of a lot of changes in the person, which they’ve been trying to cope with on their own.’

Avoidable stress

Valerie is able to connect carers to activities in their area where they get to meet with people living with similar challenges. This means they have access to information and support and don’t feel so isolated. She explains that many people don’t even know Dementia Support Workers exist.

‘One carer told me that the consultant who diagnosed her mother had been quite dismissive, didn’t explain things clearly to them and made no reference to Alzheimer’s Society as a potential source of support.’

‘The carer felt she should have been referred to a Dementia Support Worker at the time when her mother had been diagnosed rather than leaving it to chance and causing months of anxiety and avoidable stress.’

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