Dementia service success

Macclesfield grandmother, Tessa Hughes, is walking her way to a new friendship as part of an innovative new East Cheshire Hospice project designed to take its care out into the community.

Tessa, of Batemill Close, is one of the new team of Dementia Companions recruited over the summer by the Hospice. Tessa and the six other volunteers are offering companionship for people with dementia in the community – either in their own homes or accompanying them on trips and visits.

Tessa  now pays regular weekly visits to visit her companion, a gentleman in Alderley Edge, which usually involves a stroll through the village and a coffee and a chat.

“As a member of the Hospices’ choir, Claritas, I heard about this project a while ago and was really keen to get involved,” she says. “I didn’t really know very much about dementia but after several training sessions which were practical and useful, I felt very confident about meeting the person I support.”

“We chat about his days in the RAF where he worked with radar systems or his involvement with antiques. It’s great to be in his company and it also gives his wife some time on her own.”

The scheme, run in partnership with Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and the Methodists Live At Home, is led by Macclesfield clinical psychologist, Claire Halsey.

“They’re all friendly, outgoing and caring people and it’s great to see our volunteer companions all in action in the community. There is so much need for a scheme like this and I’m glad to see that they all seem to be loving it” says Claire.

Claire hopes to have around 15 volunteer companions working in the community by Christmas. The volunteers are asked to commit to 2 hours companionship every week for the person they are paired with.

“Everyone is given training to help with dementia-care techniques and we all meet up regularly to discuss how things are going so they are fully supported along this journey” says Claire.

Anyone who feels they could be interested in helping as a dementia companion volunteer, can contact Claire on 01625 666990.