Raleigh House - a dementia journey When I joined as manager of Raleigh House day centre ten years ago, we didn’t have any people living with dementia attending the centre (says Cathy Weight, Centre and Outreach Services Development Manager) . Within 12 months, working with Mary Macan of our advice team, we set up the Saturday Club, as a dedicated service for people living with dementia. The club provides an opportunity for people with dementia, and their families and carers, to socialise in a welcoming and supportive environment, where they can benefit from peer support as well as specialist information and advice. We’d identified an unmet need for people living with dementia and their carers, with many more referrals for people living with dementia coming in, we recognised that carers needed more support. We believed that many people living with dementia would benefit from being part of a universal, rather than a segregated, day service. Confidence Raleigh House is supported by a variety of volunteers who add value to the day service team. Initially many felt very uncertain, vulnerable and scared when new members with dementia were introduced to the centre. We addressed this through on-site coaching and regular team meetings encouraging discussions around dementia. This enabled us to break down barriers, develop caring strategies and remove some of the stigma, which in turn enabled volunteers to work in a caring, supportive way with more confidence. All the volunteers were offered and attended Dementia Friends training, and one went on to undertake a six-month accredited ‘Best Practice in Dementia Care’ training programme, alongside staff. We also introduced call points in all communal areas to reassure volunteers leading group activities that they could easily get help when needed. Grateful Everyone benefits from having increased understanding and awareness of the impact that dementia can have on individuals and families. I recently received an email from one of our longstanding volunteers. She said: ‘My brother in law has recently had an early dementia diagnosis. I am very grateful for my Dementia Friends training with Raleigh and the experiences of coping in the day-to day-that I have gained over the years with Staywell, which has enabled me to support my sister and brother in law.’ More information There are 1,700 people predicted to be living with dementia in Kingston borough (1 in 14 older adults). This number is expected to grow. At the time of writing Staywell is working with 407 people with a known diagnosis of dementia, of whom 120 are current members of Raleigh House. Staywell provides a variety of support services for people living with dementia and their families and unpaid carers, including practical help at home. Lene Wood, our Dementia Champion, has trained over 2,000 people in Kingston borough to be Dementia Friends. For more information, contact us. Donate or leave a gift in your Will Cathy's blog shows how much we have achieved over the last ten years - imagine how much more we can do with your support. Find out how you can help.