SLOWLY but surely, the veil of uncertainty surrounding dementia is falling away.
For many people, they try to avoid thinking about dementia as it can be too scary, they feel it will never happen to them or they just do not want to confront it.
However, as the population ages, it is a problem people increasingly have to tackle and face head-on.
A Chichester care home has come in for particular praise in recent weeks and months for the work it has done to help those with dementia and to get rid of the stigma that surrounds it,
even appointing ‘dementia champions’ to work to help those in their care and raise awareness in the wider area.
At Augusta Court, in Winterbourne Road, carers have been hailed as inspirational for the work they have done and Anchor, the company that runs the home, has made it the first home in the south to whom it has awarded ‘inspire accreditation in dementia and dignity championship’.
“It feels fantastic to be here today,” said the home’s business manager Deirdre Johnson.
“Everybody has worked doubly hard to really raise the profile of dementia, not just in the home, but anybody that comes to the home and anybody in the community.
“There’s such a stigma around people living with dementia. If we can do our little bit to let people know that people can live really well with dementia and it’s just doing those little bits and seeing past dementia and seeing the person. It’s actually the most rewarding job I’ve ever had.”
The home underwent examination from David Moore, the dementia lead at Anchor who spoke at the home on Thursday, praising the many members of staff for the work they carried out.
“It’s so refreshing when I come to somewhere like Augusta Court and I see the positive care that’s happening here,” he said.
David said when he visited the home carers took the time to get to know the people with dementia, doing just what Deirdre described and seeing through the dementia and seeing the person.
He described someone specifically talking about history with someone who had been a history teacher, or talking about someone’s home town with them.
“For me, that’s just excellent,” he said. “To see the activities co-ordinator was using life history as a way to engage with people – it was brilliant to see.
“There’s been a real push from the government that there’s more awareness in the community about dementia care and I think Augusta Court is playing a key role in that to ensure Chichester is becoming more dementia-friendly.”
As more and more people in the UK are diagnosed with dementia, it can be a hard topic for families to face.
Part of Augusta’s goal is to continue raising awareness so if people start to notice signs in their friends and relatives, they are not shy about seeking advice nor asking for help and tips.
Joanne Laverty, who also works at Anchor, spoke of her time at a dementia conference in Brighton. She said there it was discussed how dementia care should be on a par with basic things like nutrition and hydration when it came to care in residential homes.
Mayor of Chichester John Hughes presented the care home with its award as part of its special day. Staff were all moved, with some close to tears as they spoke of their stories and how proud they were of the award.
Simanti Nandi, who is a dementia champion at the home, said it was a ‘brilliant day for Augusta Court’.
“It wouldn’t be possible to be here today without Deirdre’s leadership,” she said “She’s a fantastic leader and mentor.”
One of the speakers on the day was Isa Jeffrey, who spoke of her time as an activities co-ordinator at Graylingwell Hospital,
“Isa very kindly and bravely is going to talk about her memories,” Simanti told the group.
“It shows the stark difference,” she added, pointing out that 50 years ago, people could have been locked up for being different.
“Now here we are at Augusta Court, celebrating dementia with Anchor Inspires,” she said.