Appeal for Side by Side dementia service volunteers in Mid Ulster

A Generic Photo of a doctor with an elderly patient. See PA Feature TOPICAL Vascular Dementia. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TOPICAL Vascular Dementia.
A Generic Photo of a doctor with an elderly patient. See PA Feature TOPICAL Vascular Dementia. Picture credit should read: PA Photo/thinkstockphotos. WARNING: This picture must only be used to accompany PA Feature TOPICAL Vascular Dementia.

A Mid Ulster charity is making an appeal for volunteers to take patrt in a new service to help people with dementia to keep doing the things they love.

Side by Side is a free service from Alzheimer’s Society that provides one-to one support, making it easier for people with dementia, who might sometimes feel isolated or find it difficult to leave their homes, remain active and feel part of their local community.

A survey by Alzheimer’s Society found 40 per cent of people with dementia in Wales, England and Northern Ireland, have felt lonely recently (Dementia 2014). There is strong evidence that life satisfaction in general for older people is positively correlated with levels of activity. Social activity and social support are thought to be directly related to better physical and cognitive function and help slow down the rate of decline.

Maureen Hughes, Manager of the charity’s ‘Side by Side’ service in Mid Ulster, said: “This new service focuses on enabling people with dementia to lead more fulfilling lives and to continue to take part in the activities that they have always enjoyed and try new ones.

“We are currently piloting this service in 17 places across the UK and are looking to expand to 26 by the beginning of next year. We need more volunteers to enable people with dementia to stay connected and help to reduce feelings of loneliness that may be felt after a diagnosis.

“By doing things like going for a walk, to a football match, or joining a local class together, our volunteers support people with dementia to take up hobbies and get out and about. What they do together is entirely based on what the person with dementia wants.”

“Volunteers are crucial to the success of this service and can range from providing support once a week to once a fortnight at a time that works for the volunteer and person with dementia.

It might be taking a walk in the park, a visit to a café or a chat over the phone, sounds simple, but it can make a huge difference to someone’s life.” said Maureen.

The service will help grow Dementia Friendly Communities by building local networks for people with dementia, bringing opportunity and widening what people with dementia can bring to their community, reducing stigma and social exclusion. Side by Side also aims to reach a greater number of people with dementia including groups who are under-represented in our services such as people with dementia from Black Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds and people with learning disabilities.

If you are interested in becoming a Side by Side volunteer, please contact Maureen Hughes on 07703470746 or maureen.hughes@alzheimers.org.uk for more details.