Virtual dementia café is a lifeline for carers

WILLOW Wood’s dementia café has gone virtual and also increased its frequency from twice each month to once a week.

Specialist dementia nurse Nic Lavery explained: “Those living with, or caring for someone with, dementia can find it very isolating under the best of circumstances.

“Social distancing has just added to the problems our patients and their carers face, and if they have to shield due to other health issues, you can imagine just how difficult the past weeks have been.

“Under normal conditions, we hold our dementia café in the large day services lounge at Willow Wood, and with around 40-50 people attending every time it very quickly became a fixture in their diaries.

“Sandra, Willow Wood’s other dementia nurse, and I were there for support and advice along with a number of volunteers and other members of staff.

“However, we soon realised that for the carers the fun and friendship they found there was a vital part of the mix.

“For some it could be their only social outlet and the chance to have a chat and a laugh over a coffee and a cake gave them some much needed relief and relaxation.

“Since people can’t come to the café at the moment, we decided to take the café to them.

“We’re still there for help, advice and support and although we have a loose agenda, it’s led by the carers – we talk about what they want to talk about, it is their café.”

The virtual dementia café is held over Zoom at 1pm on Fridays and if you would like to join in email and Nic will send you the code.

And if you have never used Zoom before there’s no need to worry, Willow Wood’s medical director Dr Patrick Fitzgerald has put together a very easy to follow, step-by-step video guide, available online

You don’t even need a computer, so long as you have a smartphone or tablet you can meet up with the friendly members of the virtual café.

• THIS year it will take about £2.8 million to enable Willow Wood Hospice to care for local people, and 79 per cent of that has to be raised from within the community.

The hospice is looking at a number of virtual fundraisers to help bridge the gap.

In previous years, they have had teams enter the Three Peaks Challenge. The virtual Three Peaks can be achieved by climbing the your stairs at home.

Simply ascend your stais 412 times to represent Scafell Pike, 475 times for Snowden and 587 times for Ben Nevis. Going down does not count!

Willow Wood nurses take about 12,000 steps every day. Could you walk a mile in their shoes? Take your sponsored steps during your daily exercise, on a treadmill or round the garden.

If you are normally out on the town on a Friday night, why not have a virtual cocktail party and each make a donation to the hospice.

To let Willow Wood know what you are doing, give them a ring on
0161 330 1100.

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