Dementia Support Designed by People Living With Dementia

Oxfordshire residents who receive a dementia diagnosis now have the opportunity to attend support sessions that have been created with the help of people who are living with the condition themselves.

Dementia Oxfordshire, a service provided by Age UK Oxfordshire with funding support from Oxfordshire County Council, has worked with a group of experts by experience who are living with the condition, to devise post-diagnostic education sessions for people who have recently had a diagnosis of dementia.

Melissa Spearman, Dementia Oxfordshire’s education lead, said: “Being told you have dementia can be a really difficult time, and we wanted to show people that there are lots of ways to live well with dementia.

“One of the most important lessons we learned from our experts by experience was that people with a diagnosis need time to talk and sharing experiences is a vital step to feeing that you are not alone.

“We also use the expertise of people who are living with dementia, as well as the lived experience of their carers, to include practical examples of how to make life easier, whether that’s using simple memory prompts, rearranging the kitchen so everyday tasks are easier, or utilising technology to help.

“But perhaps even more importantly, we encourage people with a dementia diagnosis to recognise the fact that they are still the same person they were, to encourage them to stay as independent as possible and to talk openly about what they are going through.”

Glenn Fletcher, a longstanding member of the experts by experience group, was diagnosed with dementia four years ago. He delivers the post-diagnostic sessions alongside Dementia Oxfordshire’s advisers.

Glenn said: “The best advice I can give anyone who is living with dementia is don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s too easy to pull yourself down and think ‘I am not what I was’. Having dementia means you just have less capacity to do certain things. You will do things like before, but not quite the same. Peripheral elements may be missing but don’t be too frightened by that.”

Anyone in Oxfordshire with a recent diagnosis of dementia is welcome to attend an education session. They form an important part of the county council’s Oxfordshire Way vision, to support people to live well and independently within their own communities for as long as possible.

Karen Fuller, Oxfordshire County Council’s Director of Adult Social Care, said: “Our partnership with Dementia Oxfordshire and Age UK Oxfordshire offers residents the best possible support, closer to home. The new sessions are delivered by people who have extensive experience of dementia and are well placed to give relevant, clear advice and support at a time when people need it most.”

The sessions are taking place at various venues across the county and also online. Full details can be found on the Dementia Oxfordshire website.

The experts by experience group has also worked with the Dementia Oxfordshire team to produce a new booklet entitled ‘A Straightforward Guide to Dementia’ with lots of easily understandable advice and recommendations. The guide is given out free of charge at the education sessions and can be downloaded from the Dementia Oxfordshire website.

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