Reopening a much-missed source of support for people affected by dementia

After its forced closure last year, our Dementia Resource Centre in Peterborough is back with some new-look services.

Our Dementia Resource Centre in Peterborough is a popular hub that acts as a one-stop shop for people affected by dementia who need advice, information and support. 

Its specialist services, including face-to-face groups, have served the local community since 2014, providing the help and guidance people need to enjoy a good quality of life and live as independently as possible. 

Like so much else, the centre’s activities were severely disrupted by the pandemic, with support forced to move online or over the phone. Thankfully face-to-face services have recently returned, with many different to before.

Dementia Resource Centre in Peterborough

A range of activities are starting back up at the centre.

New partnerships 

Previously, Society staff ran various face-to-face groups at the centre. They continue to deliver Singing for the Brain, peer support and educational programmes. Our new contract to run the centre began in April, and with it came changes to how some of the other groups are delivered. 

‘We are bringing in other organisations and partners to run a variety of activity groups,’ says Siobhan Merrygold, Dementia Connect Local Service Manager. 

‘This will give people affected by dementia access to more resources and frees up our time to reach the people who most need our specialist support.’ 

Our support service in the area has returned to face-to-face appointments, alongside continued phone support. 

One of our key partners is City College Peterborough, whose students now run the centre’s dementia café, as well as offering a hairdressing service. These services often relate to what the students, aged 16–24, are studying or the field in which they want to work. 

‘These opportunities are an excellent way for our college to give back to the community, bring a smile to people’s faces and support our young adults – some of whom have a learning disability – to grow their independence and transferrable skills,’ says Sally Elsom, Business Development and Careers Lead at the college. 

Tasha Dalton, Vice Principal at the college, says that students and adults with learning disabilities will deliver a high-quality service for people affected by dementia. 

‘We want to provide a café that recognises and supports people’s individual needs,’ she says. ‘We are proud to be working with the centre, creating a safe, calm and inclusive space.’

Dementia Resource Centre in Peterborough

The centre’s specially designed garden.

Not the same 

Christine, who has vascular dementia, was one of the first people to return to groups at the centre in September. She loved attending before the pandemic. 

‘I really enjoyed it. The people made you feel welcome and were very helpful. It was a good laugh,’ she says. ‘When it all stopped – oh no! We went onto Zoom. It’s OK, but not the same.’ 

Christine previously attended a peer support group called Open Minds, now called Think and Share. 

‘If you’ve got any problems, you can talk to them, they don’t go and tell anybody else. It’s private and confidential in the building,’ she says. 

Under the centre’s new contract, a local theatre is also hosting Singing for the Brain, which Christine has already been to. She’s delighted that the place has reopened. 

‘I think it’s great!’ she says. ‘I can’t be stuck in. I want to meet different people and have a nice chat.’ 

Still here 

Society staff were able to offer in-person appointments at the centre as of June, while July saw the face-to-face return of the Carer Information and Support Programme (CrISP).

Louise Yates is a carer for her 72-year old mum Marion, who was diagnosed as having dementia with Lewy bodies in April 2020. 

‘It’s hard to put into words just how much attending CrISP at the centre helped me,’ she says. ‘The programme improved my knowledge, gave me helpful ideas and outlined the practical help available, all delivered by experienced and understanding staff. 

Marion and Louise

Marion and Louise.

‘To me, dementia often feels like the “dementors” from Harry Potter, sucking the life and happiness not just from the person but also their family members. I had been feeling quite isolated and lonely after giving up my job to care for Mum full time, so being able to finally meet the staff and put faces to names was invaluable. 

‘The centre staff and the people who access it already feel like a family to me. They have been a real lifeline and have helped me to realise that I don’t have to go it alone. We carers have already swapped details and are going to meet up again at the centre soon.’ 

Siobhan is thrilled that the Dementia Resource Centre is once again delivering vital face-to-face services for people affected by dementia. 

‘It’s been a challenging time for us all, and while on the surface we appear to be returning to normal, we know that things are far from normal for many people,’ she says.

‘We want to get the message out that we are still here for support.’ 

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