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Local support for dementia patients and carers

This year, the number of people in the UK currently living with dementia has reached 850,000, according to the Alzheimer’s Society.

Around 23 million of the UK population now know a close friend or family member with dementia.

Much about the condition or indeed the support that is available is still largely unknown which is why a year ago the East Mendip GP Federation, the  Alzheimer’s Society, Rethink Reconnect and the Somerset Partnership Carers Service came together to give patients with dementia and their carers information about their services.

As well as letting patients know about support that was available the partnership of organisations wanted to hear from patients and carers themselves what support they would like to see.

The response from patients was that they wanted regular support groups, earlier diagnosis and more awareness amongst those working in the health community about issues affecting people with dementia as well as extra support for the carers.

The clinical staff at the Frome Medical Practice is already proactively contacting appropriate patients, offering a simple memory test. However, during a recent training day a total of 38 other members of staff at the Practice were trained to be Dementia Friends at a session led by Dementia Champion Masen Naidoo.

Camilla Alfred is the Dementia Friends regional volunteering support officer. She said, “I am absolutely delighted that following the visit of our Dementia Champion, all of the staff at Frome Medical Practice have now become Dementia Friends and are therefore now committed to making little changes to the way that they work, which will make a big difference to people with dementia and their carers who use the Practice.

“Less than half of us think that we know enough about dementia. Dementia Friends is the perfect opportunity to be able to invite everyone up and down the country to improve their knowledge. Dementia Friends isn’t about creating experts, it’s about helping people understand a little bit more about what it’s like to live with the condition and then turn that understanding into action.”

Over the past year, with the help of funding from organisations such as Friends of Frome Hospital and others, the monthly support group called Cafe Connect now meets at the Health Centre on the second Thursday of every month 10.30am to 12.00noon. This is a place where people can share experiences, make friends and find out about information and support from the host organisation.

The Alzheimer’s Society runs fortnightly Singing for the Brain groups at Frome Hospital as well as carers’ courses from the Practice.

The Somerset Partnership Carers’ Service and Rethink Reconnect now support more patients with their carers in the local Frome and Mendip area. This is all the result of both statutory and voluntary organisations working together and listening to what patients want.

Anyone wishing to become a Dementia Friend or sign up for the local Dementia Friends Champions training session is asked to visit