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AUC Blog: Dementia Wellbeing with Gabriela Garbutt

Published on 23 May 2019 12:48 PM

Gabriela Garbutt works on Age UK Camden's Dementia Wellbeing Service

"Age UK Camden’s Dementia Wellbeing Service supports people living with mild to moderate dementia in Camden. As a person’s wellbeing can be affected by such a wide range of factors, like relationships, housing, and their sense of purpose, the way we support a client is guided by what they feel is important to them. It’s different for each individual but generally relates to supporting them to carry on doing what they have always loved doing, helping them stay independent at home, and preventing social isolation.

The Dementia Wellbeing Service is a preventative service, ensuring that the person with dementia accesses the right support when they need it to prevent a deterioration in their symptoms. It helps people stay socially engaged and stimulated in a way that is meaningful to them so they don’t become socially isolated. As we work with people for six months or longer, we are able to respond to changes in the client’s circumstances and adapt the support as needed.

To help people maintain their interests, I help the client find activities that reflect what they like to do (like poetry groups, walking clubs or coffee mornings) and support them to attend.

We also support people to carry on doing what they have always enjoyed doing at home. For example if someone has always loved sewing or sketching but their dementia symptoms have affected their confidence to do so, I will assign a volunteer to engage them in this interest until the client feels up to doing this activity on their own. We also have performance volunteers who learn the client’s favourite songs and give a one to one live performance in their living room!

To help people stay independent, I work alongside health and social care professionals to make sure they are getting the right support at home. If a client has found that their dementia symptoms has affected their organisational abilities, myself or a volunteer will support the client to make sure they stay on top of their post and respond to important letters, and help them devise a system for remembering appointments.

Dementia can sometimes affect the person’s confidence to get out and about and to continue seeing friends and family. We therefore support people to maintain these relationships, for example encouraging them to call friends and family they haven’t spoken to in a while, or write birthday cards.

I love my job as I get to visit so many fascinating people and learn about their lives. I really enjoy working alongside colleagues within Age UK Camden as well as other health and social care professional to support our clients in a holistic way, and I have a fantastic team of volunteers who each bring something unique to the role. I also love getting out and about to all parts of Camden, from King’s Cross to Cricklewood!"

Age UK Camden also offers a Dementia Befriending service and we are looking for Dementia Wellbeing volunteers, Dementia Befriending volunteers and artists to give voluntary performances for our clients.