Health and Wellbeing
Identifying and Supporting People and their Carers Living with Dementia
The diagram above clearly outlines the various types of dementia, they have related symptoms associated with ongoing decline of how the brain functions. There are many different causes of dementia, it is however a general term associated with loss of memory, language, problem solving and severe impairments of the brain’s abilities to communicate. Thereby greatly interfering with how the individual functions daily. Note, however that Alzheimer's is the most common cause of dementia.
Dementia is a syndrome which is not curable but some symptoms may temporarily be improved with drug treatment whereas other symptoms can be alleviated by non-drug therapies. Dementia is caused by damage to the brain cells. This damage interferes with the ability to communicate with each other. This inability for the brain cells to be able to communicate normally, affects the person feelings, thinking and behaviour.
My Role in the Team
My name is Lorna Bailey, I serve as a evangelist in the Willesden Branch of the Pentecostal City Mission Church in London, UK and as the Chair for the National Convention Committee. In 2016 I gave up my full time career as a Clinical Physiologist in respiratory and sleep medicine. The plan was to slow down; to possibly work part time or a few months at a time. I however, got more involved with working in the church and the local community.
I Identified the need within our congregation for some form of clinical support, after a member left church one Sunday at around 2pm to drive home, which is only a 20 minutes drive from church, but when he did not arrive after an hour his son knew that something was wrong. After the usual checks with family and friends, eventually the police were called and members of the church got involved with searching in the local area but he could not be seen anywhere locally. The church member was found several miles away, he was involved in a minor motor accident, and when the police was called to the scene of the accident, they identified him from the missing person’s report, this was after 11:00pm that night. So after several years of driving the same journey to and from church, that day he had forgotten how to get back home.
The Dementia Café
We could ask the question; was the accident orchestrated by God? As thank God, despite the accident, he was found to be unharmed. He was diagnosed with dementia some time later and the fact that he was our second member of the church to be diagnosed with dementia. This gave birth to the 'Dementia Café' at City Mission Hub in London, UK.
With the support of the first member who was diagnosed with vascular dementia, a group of us were able to apply for funding and so set up a dementia café in the church hall. Our volunteers, mainly consist of the church hospitality team and we support people and their carers living with dementia.
We believe in educating people within our church and church communities in order for them to become more dementia friendly. Dementia Café improves the situation of people with dementia and their carers by combatting isolation through providing a supportive place to go where they feel accepted and can talk to others in similar situations and where activities are targeted at people with dementia enabling them to participate and gain a sense of well-being.
With this is mind, and being the chair of the convention committee, I asked our Bishop if we could have a dementia workshop session during our national convention. The main idea was to educate, get members of the church to become dementia friends, be much more dementia aware, and so encourage them to open a dementia café in their local community. This was a very successful workshop, our bishop even commented that it was one of the largest attendance of our convention workshops.
I believe that the high attendance was possibly due to one of our speakers, who is the founder of “Alzheimer’s Jamaica.” The information given by this speaker was of great interest to those who wanted information on how they could support their relatives in Jamaica who were possible experiencing symptoms of dementia. But as cares in Jamaica did not understand, they were struggling to get any support, and many just put the symptoms down to the person experiencing mental illness.
Alzheimer’s Jamaica was officially launched in November 2019.
The Alzheimer’s Society
The Alzheimer’s society are very supportive in helping to set up what we call in the UK, a dementia café. It is one of the most trusted resources for information, education, referrals, and support. In the early stages of setting up the dementia cafe, we the volunteers all had training on what to expect when caring for people and their carers living with dementia.
The Alzheimer’s Society offered or pointed us to charities where we received funding for food and hygiene, and First Aid training.
What We Offer at the Dementia Cafe on a Weekly Basis
People living with dementia and their carers attend the Café, where they can relax, we provide a two course cooked meal, fresh fruit, and healthy drinks are also served. We play games which aet planned to help with their cognitive stimulation, we offer exercise sessions given by trained physiotherapists or a fitness trainer.
Adopting a healthy lifestyle, including a healthy diet, not smoking, and regular exercise, may decrease the risk of cognitive decline and dementia. So, as well as putting some of these in place and getting the service users involved at the club, we also book various health professionals to come in and educate them.
This is a very rewarding service we offer because very often it’s not just that our service users have dementia and need the benefits of the exercise or the mental stimulation, they look forward to getting out because of the loneliness they’re experiencing and for a hot meal, as they’re not always able to prepare themselves.