I am continuing, this month, with inviting those who are really responsible for the success of The Debenham Project – the volunteers and professionals who lead and look after the activities and groups that can make such a difference – to tell us a little about what they do. This time it is about the Carers Club and Info Café.
Early on in the Project, it was clear that, as a carer for someone with dementia, or a person with the illness, being able to get together with those who are also living with the impact of the illness on their lives can help enormously in reducing feelings of isolation and helplessness, and sharing experiences with others who truly understand what they are going through can offer commonsense advice, information and tips for coping. However, if it can also provide a warm and friendly social atmosphere it becomes something special in the diary, somewhere to feel at home where there are no labels to say “this person might behave strangely” or “that person could be struggling to manage”. This is the philosophy of The Carers Club and Info Café that meet twice a month in Dove Cottage “powered” by Sue, Margaret, Carole, Tony, Jan, Steve, Jean and several other volunteers but primarily “lubricated” by chocolate cake – In fact probably the finest selection of luscious cakes in Suffolk – We couldn’t manage this without our wonderful bakers. An afternoon tea when you can get to know others in a similar position to yourself and make friends. It’s an opportunity to talk through problems with volunteers who understand your situation or just to enjoy an hour or so in company. It is amazing how friendships have been made and even friendships rediscovered after 20, 30, or even more years. An experienced volunteer dementia support advisor is there to help each month. And like the NHS it is all at no cost to those who participate – Sue even insists that everyone takes home a generous piece of cake for the next day. Why? Firstly, because carers often have no time to bake nice cakes, secondly because although someone who has dementia may not remember what they did the previous day they will know that they had a really nice time and the cake they take home will often remind them of it, and finally because this is what caring is all about. Thank you Sue, and all the team.
Next, I would like to draw your attention to the new county-wide “Dementia Together” service which was launched at the beginning of April. The Debenham Project is an integral part of this scheme not only providing the frontline information and support in our area but also being able to directly refer those who need more help to the professional services via a central hub led by Sue Ryder. The aim is to ensure simple, direct and continuing access to support whenever it is needed. If you are just curious, you are becoming concerned, you are seeking a diagnosis, or you are looking for support, I encourage you to contact us on 01728 862003 and register with the service. Or you can ring the Suffolk Dementia Together Helpline on 08081 688000.
To finish this month, I especially want to personally thank everyone who have supported the project with their donations.
With best wishes, Lynden
The first of our monthly 'Way Back When' reminiscence afternoons was held on April 12th and was very successful. Everyone enjoyed chatting about past times lubricated by a cup of tea and a piece of cake, and all brought to mind by our collection of vintage photos and objects from the 40s, 50s, and 60s. The next session is on May 10th in Dove Cottage from 2pm. Please come along and help us to make it into a regular event filled with lots of laughter and, perhaps, some of the spicy tales of Debenham Way Back When. Please notice that these get-togethers are for everyone, family carers who need a bit of relaxation, those who have difficulty remembering what they did yesterday but who can share their stories of earlier times in amazing detail, and those who just enjoy a friendly trip down memory lane. It would be wonderful to welcome you, feel free to bring along something of interest from home but, most of all, bring your memories. Click here to find out about all our activities and groups
Earlier in 2016 we were asked if we would share our experiences with active community groups, professionals and decision makers in Wales. This was in connection with a Welsh Government initiative to improve post-diagnosis dementia support and community- based activities and services for the elderly and frail generally. As a result Paddy and I participated in an event in Porthcawl, a team from the government came here to make a video contribution presenting 3 leading initiatives, the publication of an insight into The Debenham Project ("The Four Mile Rule"), and a number of opportunities for community groups in Wales to consult us by telephone and e-mail. Click here to watch the video (The Debenham Project is the second project that is featured).
The presentation is available here
The presentation is available here
The Project "Charitree": a few photos of an advent display in St. Mary's Church entitled " What the Debenham Project means to us" created by participants in the project. An unusual and unique user evaluation.
It is now just over 8 years since the public meeting took place which was pivotal in the way that Debenham and its surrounding villages are addressing the challenges of their ageing population. This paper briefly describes The Debenham Project and highlights it's recent developments and achievements. The reader will find more detail in the newsletters and Parish Magazine articles archived elsewhere on the website.
This paper presents the results of a 4 year study addressing the provision of health, social care and housing for the elderly-frail members of a typical large rural community in Suffolk. It argues that the current structures of the NHS and Social Services are not suited to coping with the challenge of providing quality care in the long term and that innovative solutions must be explored. As a result of this research one such approach has been identified - “The Vision of Caring” - which is predicted to not only deliver a quantum step improvement in overall care, but also to achieve economic savings in the region of 8 to 10% per annum. It is suggested that without a new structure for the care of the elderly-frail the NHS and Social Services will become overwhelmed irrespective of any increased commitments to funding them. It is believed that the “Vision” offers a new direction in the provision of care which both matches the aspirations and needs of an ageing rural population, and is also affordable.
Between July 2012 and August 2013, the authors carried out an independent in–depth research project in partnership with the Debenham Project in Suffolk. They were trying to capture the experiences of carers of people living with dementia within a single community and to investigate what encourages or discourages families to seek early diagnosis and support. As far as we know, this is the first time that a particular local community has been the subject of such an in-depth analysis. The findings continue to be totally relevant today.
At the beginning of October, we had a very special event – “Harvest through the Ages”. It was a 2 day exhibition of the most wonderful scale models of farming wagons, carts, and tools, which was combined with a magnificent harvest flower display, and displays of “Olden Foods” and locally made traditional walking sticks. Over the 2 days we had more than 500 visitors from across Suffolk. So many thanks to everyone who helped create it, steward it, provide refreshments, publicise it, and everything else. Of course the exceptional weather made all the difference. Our aim was to celebrate harvest and display one of our carer’s (Nic Cass) models for one last time before we try to find them a home in a museum. We did not set out to make it a fundraising exercise so all we did was to put out a basket for donations to Dove Cottage and the project. Imagine our delight when upon tipping the money out we found that it amounted to almost exactly £500 which when added to the donations for refreshments organized by the church and the W.I. gave a grand total of £590.
Debenham Project has won the Probert Trophy which is awarded annually by Suffolk ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) for the best community achievement in Suffolk. It was presented to us at their AGM today. It is all down to the great goodwill, support and efforts of everyone involved. So congratulations and thank you indeed.
On this YouTube link is the long version of the nominations film for the Suffolk ACRE Probert Award and Campbell Cup http://youtu.be/JnzBKFELk7Q
View video on dementia from Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. Click here to visit their website
Debenham Project Presentation (You will neede a Powerpoint Reader to open this file)