Caring for someone with dementia can be a 24-hour job and one that often takes over any relationship you both may have had before.
But at BIADS – Barnsley Independent Alzheimer’s and Dementia Support – their unique support service helps people diagnosed with dementia and their carers to reconnect with each other through a range of life-enriching activities and much-welcomed respite from daily life.
In Barnsley, around 3,000 people over 65 have dementia, and this figure is set to rise to 4,800 by 2030. When someone is diagnosed with dementia, the focus is primarily on the services they may need in place to continue living as independently as possible.
However, there can be little to no help for their partner or family member who often becomes their carer. Half of carers spend more than 100 hours a week caring for someone with dementia, and it can be overwhelming to watch their loved ones change due to the disease.
Since launching in 2010, BIADS has become an invaluable resource in Barnsley, providing a lifeline that families affected by dementia couldn’t live without. The charity’s headquarters are on Dean Street, just off Dodworth Road, where they offer a weekly calendar of emotional support groups, drop-in sessions and sensory-based activities for people with dementia and their carers.
Last year, they also launched a new dementia day centre at the Old Court House on Regent Street to provide a warm, relaxing and safe space to care for people with dementia during the week on either a full or half day basis.
The day centre is open four days a week and service users enjoy a range of activities to promote mental stimulation and independence such as crafts, baking, reading or card games. They have also recently opened Jean’s Bar, an alcohol-free bar with a Jukebox, TV and games. The furniture and bar was donated by Nando’s and the space was decorated by kind volunteers from Nat West bank.
A new multi-sensory unit is also set to be opened at the day centre this May which will feature a bubble wall, fibre-optic carpet, LED projector and soothing sounds to help distract and de-escalate service users during overwhelming periods.
Over at Dean Street, carers can call into one of their drop-in cafes or join the carer support group which takes place on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Here they can come to a comfortable and confidential setting, without fear of being judged, to talk to carer support workers about any issues they may be facing. At the same time as the carers’ groups, the people they care for can take part in various activities in a safe and welcoming environment.
Some carers need practical support around issues with mobility, incontinence or work and pensions; others come for regular social contact that may have fallen by the wayside since becoming a carer; and there are those who just want to talk to people going through similar situations to feel like they are not alone.
BIADS also has many sessions throughout the month for people with dementia, such as the Singers group, Zoom Yoga, Time for Tea group and Walking group. Referrals are also welcomed for their gentle exercise and dancing classes to keep people mobile.
The BIADS team organises various social events throughout the year as well as two UK holidays in early summer and November for members to enjoy some time together away from Barnsley.
BIADS continue to advocate the importance of improving diagnosis rates of dementia. Memory loss is not just a sign of getting older. There are over 100 types of dementia that can affect people in various and unpredictable ways, causing complex cognitive and behavioural symptoms. An early diagnosis gives people and their loved ones the chance to adjust to any changes and access support that is available from organisations like BIADS.
The need for more dementia care is set to increase over the next ten years but less than half of care staff have dementia specific training. BIADS offer training packages for companies who need to improve their awareness of living with dementia, the impact on carers, and how to support or communicate service users.
To find out more about BIADS, how to donate or volunteer, visit their website: www.biads.org.uk or call 01226 280 057