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Dementia Connections Meeting Centres

West Moor Dementia Meeting centre and staff

Published on 10 August 2021 10:23 AM

It's a first for the North East as Dementia Meeting Centres open in North Tyneside

Life-changing groups where people living with Dementia and their families can receive vital support have opened in the North East for the first time.

This week (wb August 2) Age UK North Tyneside opened two Dementia Meeting Centres, offering individually-tailored, expert-led support to people affected by the condition and their families. Watch the YouTube video produced by ChronicleLive.

Most existing groups focus solely on the person with Dementia, however the new centres – at West Moor Community Centre and Howdon Hub – also help family members cope with the effects of the devastating condition.

Research has shown Meeting Centres have a hugely positive impact: statistics show that after attending people living with the condition were happier, and families felt more able to look after their loved ones.

With activities to help stimulate their minds, and experts on hand for help and advice, attendees have already said what a difference the new groups are making to their lives.

Sam Chiedozie, whose wife Tessie, 63, lives with Dementia and who attended the West Moor group, said: “It is great to have a place we can go like this where we can get advice and talk to other people who are going through the same things. The activities are great – they help stimulate her mind and help her with her memory. This is so much better than us just being at home. This is exactly the kind of place we need.”

Tessie, from Wideopen, added: “We have been doing something similar with Age UK North Tyneside virtually but I have been really looking forward to meeting people for the first time! I have had such a great time here and will definitely come back!”

Dennis Brown, 82, from Forest Hall, also lives with the condition. He said: “When I heard about the Meeting Centres I thought it would do me good to come along. It has been very nice, with a great group of people who I wouldn’t have otherwise met. I have had a lot of fun.”

There are around 3000 people over 65 living with Dementia across North Tyneside, and the condition is listed as the biggest cause of death in the UK.

Age UK North Tyneside’s Dementia Connections team currently supports almost 400 people a month who are living with Dementia, and their families. During the pandemic it has kept in touch with customers via telephone, Zoom and Facetime, while also providing essential home visits.

The idea for Meeting Centres originated in the Netherlands, where there are now hundreds dotted across the country. Despite their success in Europe, they are still uncommon in the UK.

Kirsty De Bono-Hume, one of the charity’s seven Dementia-specialist Admiral Nurses and the Centres’ ‘lead’ hopes the Centres will be the first of many. She said: “The idea is to bring together the people affected by Dementia and support them through what can be a very difficult process. The Meeting Centres provide an inclusive, warm and enjoyable environment to support both people with Dementia alongside their family carers. “There is nothing else like this in the North East and we think it is going to have a massive impact on people in the community. We are starting with two Centres initially, but ideally would have more spread across North Tyneside in future.”

The Age UK North Tyneside Admiral Nurse team which supports the Meeting Centres has been funded by North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Dr Alexandra Kent, CCG Medical Director, said: “Having community-based support for people and families affected by dementia is vital especially after a very difficult 18 months. These local Meeting Centres really focus on helping people cope with the adjustments needed to live with the symptoms and changes that dementia brings and provides a welcoming, friendly and fun environment for everyone who visits.”

To find out more about the Centres, call 0191 2808484 option 0. You can also email enquiries@ageuknorthtyneside.org.uk or visit our Dementia Connections activities page

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