In 1999 the Carers Support Worker (CSW) with the Community Dementia Team (now part of the Care Management Team) was encouraging Carers to attend educational & support groups it was observed that Carers found it difficult to leave the person they cared for at home.
When a sitter service was offered Carers said they would rather use the sitter to enable them to go shopping etc. A volunteer was found & she enabled the Carers to bring the person they cared for to the meeting. The volunteer assisted the clients to bake pancakes & invited the Carers to join them for a cup of tea.
This proved to be a huge success with the dynamics of both groups changing. Carers suddenly found themselves seeing what each other had to deal with & bonds were formed. As those meetings were held monthly it was recognised they would have to be held weekly if they were to make a significant difference to the quality of people’s lives.
A venue was found & the CSW set up a pilot group with the help of one volunteer. This worked well & later that year an Occupational Therapist from Royal Cornhill Hospital was charged with the task of setting up Day Hospital facilities for those living on Deeside. It was a natural link & the CSW & OT formed the Forget Me Not Club which was based in the Banchory Scout HQ.
Numbers grew rapidly & recruitment of quality volunteers was quickly completed. Interestingly we still have 4 of the original volunteers proving the success of the Club & its ability to value its volunteers.
In 2000 we opened a group in Aboyne to support clients & Carers further up Deeside. Again we used the local Scout HQ but it was a cold building so we quickly found the Aboyne Church Hall! Also in 2000 the local authority opened a Resource centre – DalvenieGardens in Banchory & we were invited to relocate to this new & very comfortable venue.
In the following years we have developed special interest groups – the singing for pleasure, affectionately called Forget Me Notes is for people with dementia & has proved extremely beneficial as Carers have reported improvement in mood & alertness for sometime following the singing sessions.
We have developed a Men’s Group to provide both male clients & Carers an opportunity to come together in the indoor Sports Centre in Banchory where they can select activities to suit their ability & interest. A variety of sports including bowling, darts, pool, dominoes & putting are available along with stimulating conversation.
Within our regular meetings we have Tai Chi instructor join us to give gentle exercise & we have evidence to show the benefits this has on both clients & Carers. Recognising the benefits we have gone on to set up a weekly Tai Chi session in Dalvenie which is proceeded by a half hour “welcome coffee” event.
Within our regular meetings we provide Complementary Therapies which include Reiki, Shiatzu, Reflexology, Indian Head Massage – our therapist assess the needs of the Carers & clients to enable them to receive the appropriate therapy for their needs. We also employ a chiropodist & a Life Coach to give the support required to enable Carers to continue to care for people at home.
We have a sister organisation run by a volunteer which is called Caring for Carers – Let’s Live Again. This project is for new Carers & runs courses over a 6 week block with speakers giving input on types of dementia & how they manifest themselves in people; types of drugs used in dementia; activities at home; benefits; care management systems; stress management.
The entire Forget Me Not Club depends on & owes its success to the commitment of our team of volunteers who are trained & supported in their task, many of them coming from a background of caring for someone with dementia themselves