Dementia Action Week: SLC Sarah Casey, Dementia Champion, talks about the support she gives to SLSW families

Sarah Casey Dementia Champion with her certificate to be a Purple Angel

As part of Dementia Action Week (May 17-23) we caught up with SLC Sarah Casey who is extremely knowledgable about Dementia and is a Dementia Champion…

Why did you decide to become a Dementia Champion?

When I joined Shared Lives a number of individuals that lived with carers that I supported had a diagnosis of Dementia and there were also individuals that were showing early signs. I had cared for family members in the palliative stage of dementia, however there are several diseases and types of Dementia and I wanted to know how I could support my Carers who in turn could support individuals living with them.

What was the process to become a Dementia Champion?

Firstly I became a Dementia Friend, volunteering and raising monies for Alzheimer’s Society. I then attended an assessment day and training sessions to become a Dementia Champion.

Being a Dementia Champion means that I volunteer and deliver Dementia information sessions usually 45mins in length to anyone who wants to learn more. These can be public or private sessions. The information session follows a “standard format” delivering five key messages regarding Dementia and I focus on turning understanding into action and inviting participants to become a Dementia Friend. The aims of these sessions is developing Dementia friendly communities.

During the pandemic Information sessions are available via webinars and livestreaming.

How does your work help SLSW Carers and the people we support?

I am aware of Dementia friendly communities that carers can access. When someone is diagnosed with Dementia, the individual, family members and even carers may feel very worried and I’m sure will have many questions. It’s important to remember each person will experience Dementia in their own unique way and with a set of symptoms.

Through my knowledge I endevour to offer invaluable support and reassurance quickly to our SLSW Carers and the people we support.

Due to my passion, I have wanted to know what support and choices individuals have regarding how they are cared for, such as medication.

I have attended seminars by world re-known Geriatrician Sam Davies. I forged links across the sea in discovering how other countries support and care individuals with Dementia. I am also a Purple Ambassador who support Purple Angel raising awareness for Dementia.

Currently  I’m enrolled on a University Dementia course to develop my learning further. I have been fortunate to work very closely with health colleagues and identify what are the Dementia Pathways.

Most importantly I am a resource. I am happy to chat to carers and offer support and share resources. I have some fantastic publications from Alzheimer’s Society.

Can you explain what help there available to those who have Dementia?

Whether you are someone with it, a family member or a carer it’s important to remember a diagnosis can help with preparing and planning for the future.

Alzheimer’s Society offers lots of information to help people affected by Dementia. Visit the website to learn more and access free support. On the website you can find out what support is available for people with it in your area. Go to Get Support/Find support near you.

You can also find information on the talking point discussion forum on the website, where you can connect with other people going through similar experiences.

These telephone number may also be helpful:

Alzheimer’s Society National Helpline number 0300 222 1122

Dementia Connect Support Line 0333 150 3456

What causes Dementia?

It is caused by diseases of the brain.  Just like other organs in our body become damaged so does the brain. There are over 100 different types.

Research  estimates that  by 2050 there will be 131.5 million people diagnosed with Dementia worldwide. It affects men and women. It can affect people under the age of 65 and it is believed there are over 400,000 people under the age of 65 estimated to have it in the UK.

 We have SLSW Carers who support people with early stages of Dementia. How does being in a Shared Lives placement help those who have it and their families ?

For me, it is important especially during the early stages of Dementia that the individuals that are being supported have familiarity and routines remain the same as much as possible.

A GP or specialist will be carrying out a number of tests to check basic thinking processes and ability to perform daily tasks. I have supported three people who uses  Shared Lives services in getting a confirmed diagnosis. I certainly feel the knowledge and experience that the carer had of the individual was beneficial  in identifying the changes in the behaviour and how their daily routine has been adapted.

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