East Cheshire Hospice is to take its care out into the community in an innovative project designed to help people with dementia. The Hospice will be recruiting a team of volunteer dementia “companions” who will visit people in the community – either in their own homes or accompanying them on trips and visits.
The scheme, run in partnership with Age UK, the Alzheimer’s Society and the Methodists Live At Home, will be run by Macclesfield clinical psychologist, Claire Halsey. As Project Lead, Claire has the task of recruiting the new companions which she hopes will grow to a team of 15 by the end of the year.
All the volunteers will be trained to help with dementia-care techniques and will be fully supported in the community by Claire and the Hospice Volunteer Co-ordinator, Helena Smith.
“We are looking for outgoing, friendly, caring people who are happy to give a few hours every week to befriend someone with dementia,” says Claire. “We’d really welcome people with a range of lively interests – from hobbies such as gardening or photography to interests such as local history,” says Claire.
The new companions will be carefully matched with people in the community and, after initial training, will be able to visit their chosen companion either in their home or on visits in the community. No personal care is involved. “By supporting those suffering with dementia in an active way, we are adding value to their lives and, in turn, also supporting their carers” says Claire.
The project has grown out of the ongoing dementia Carer Well-Being Scheme which has developed dementia “ buddies” who support an eight-week programme for people with dementia and their carers. Anyone who feels they could be interested in helping as a dementia companion volunteer, can contact Helena Smith on 01625 610364.