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Grace Berry with her daughter

17th November 2016

Grace Berry at home with daughter LorraineGrace Berry at home with daughter Lorraine

by Philip Welch

Too many local people with dementia are left alone for too long.

Sitting in an armchair by yourself for hours on end in front of television programmes you can’t follow is a regular fact of life if you live alone with your dementia.

Not all are as lucky as 78-year-old Grace Berry of Wells who has a loving and supportive family living nearby and watchful neighbours.

“My family are wonderful,” said Grace, “but they need their own time for their jobs and children.”

Grace worked at the Blue School, where she was well known for arriving on her trusty moped, as a cleaner then lunch supervisor for 38 years but had to retire when she started to get confused in 2013.

“Once Mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia it took six months before we understood what care was available,” said her daughter Lorraine Cane.

“The Alzheimer’s Society say someone suffering with dementia ideally would have a maximum of three carers looking after them 24/7, building a relationship and understanding of their needs.

“But we had over 30 different carers in six weeks from Somerset County Council’s preferred suppliers. This did have an impact on mum’s quality of life.

“When someone gets dementia they need help with everything, the care provided is paramount but only scratches the surface of what’s required in ensuring they continue to live a safe and fulfilled life. 

“Dad died three years ago and Mum no longer drives her moped so she has lost her companion, freedom and independence. 

“What Mum really needs are organised, safe social activities in the evening. But where can we find that?”

One organisation in Wells which does provide day care is the Lawrence Centre off the entrance to the Union Street car park.

This charity runs sessions for the elderly and those with dementia for five hours Monday-Thursday.

They provide a convivial atmosphere, hot lunch, drinks, music, talks, singing, art and cookery activities as well as occasional days out.

But money is a problem. Their main funding comes from Somerset County Council but they are cutting the grant by 25 per cent a year.

“We need to raise another £10,000 a year just to maintain existing services,” said Maggie Charlesworth, manager of the Lawrence Day Centre.

“But we are getting more and more people coming in with memory problems.

“We need another member of staff but I am having to spend increasing time seeking funds instead of running the centre.”

The campaign to make Wells a Dementia Friendly City aims to increase understanding of the disease and set up more singing classes, nostalgia sessions, memory cafes and art classes in Wells to improve life for people with dementia and their carers.

To help fund this we have applied for a grant of £5,000 from the Aviva Community Fund.

To win this money we need your vote. The more votes we get, the more chance we have to bring this money to help people in Wells with dementia.

For more information about the campaign to make Wells a Dementia Friendly City, offer help or just add your support, please email enquiries@pilgrimfp.co.uk or philipwelch21@btinternet.com

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