By Lynda Hutton

February 17th, 2021

Supporting Carers and Volunteers

Most of the time before we take on a new role we have the luxury of venturing into that role with the knowledge of what may be expected of us. We will have a job description and receive an induction and training appropriate to that role. We will know the hours of work and we will agree to those hours at the outset with the aim of a good work-life balance.

When we find ourselves in the role of supporting someone living with dementia we don’t always have this luxury, there is no job description and the hours of work are unknown. Families report the stress of trying to come to terms with a diagnosis and supporting their loved one to the best of their ability. Many report that they try to hide their emotions, to stay strong for their loved even though they may find themselves in a role that they feel ill prepared for. Families have also stated that although they have seen the signs of change prior to diagnosis, deep down they still hold the hope it will be part of old age and it will all be fine.

Working with families over the years serves as a reminder that every one of us are unique human beings, and how we deal with situations will also be unique. The coping mechanisms that we have used throughout our lives will play a part in how we cope with this new challenge and may impact on whether we ask for support or not. But we know the importance of planning ahead when someone is diagnosed.

In so many areas of life we have those moments where we might think ‘if I had known this before, then I would have done things differently’. That is why the DSDC has been providing workshops that can help carers understand the impact of dementia and provide hints and tips on interventions that may help them to cope in their support role.

The DSDC has been running fully funded educational workshops for family carers and volunteers in Scotland since 2017. The workshops were introduced as face to face events providing an opportunity to support families following a diagnosis of dementia. Volunteers are also encouraged to attend as they too are often at the forefront of support, and often benefit from hearing the experiences of carers. The ultimate aim of the workshops is to promote an improved quality of life for both the person living with dementia and also for the lives of those supporting them.

The content covered includes:

  • Types of dementia and how the changes within the brain will impact on how a person may present.
  • Encouraging families and volunteers to consider the perspective of the person living with dementia and how the person may find difficulties in understanding the ever changing world around them.
  • Understanding the importance of psychological and social wellbeing and seeing the person at the heart of their care.
  • Recognising the importance of good communication skills and what interventions can be introduced to help in this area.
  • Promoting independence to help maintain skills and acknowledging the technology that could also be considered.
  • Promoting meaningful activity that can help stimulate the person which can in turn support wellbeing and quality of life.

Living with dementia can bring challenges but if we have a greater understanding of how dementia can impact on the person this can be helpful in supporting a loved one and within our caring roles. These workshops are currently being held online and the content is broken down across 3 one hour sessions.  If you are a family member or friend to someone living with dementia, or volunteer with an organisation supporting someone with dementia and would like to attend a workshop, we have an upcoming course being held on April 15th, 22nd and 29th at 11:00 am. Each session runs for one hour and does require you to have access to a computer and internet to participate.

To register for this course please contact dementia@stir.ac.uk .


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Categories: Carers Education