To celebrate Dementia Awareness Week, we took the opportunity to join the Dementia Peer Support Service during their visit to Abbey House Museum in Kirkstall with the Cultural Partnership Support Group – a group facilitated in partnership with Leeds museums, galleries, libraries, information service and West Yorkshire Playhouse. It was a great chance to speak to people living with dementia and see for ourselves what a difference peer support can make.
It’s 1.15pm and most people at this point in the day are usually trying to reenergise for the rest of the afternoon but not this lively group – they are full of energy and very eager to see what’s inside the museum. The theme for today is ‘superstition’ so the group will be looking at all the artefacts around the museum that have become known for bringing good and bad luck. We manage to catch Debbie Marshall, Peer Support Co-ordinator, for a quick chat and to tell us a little more about the group.
“Many of the peer support groups we run are based on support forums for a person living with dementia but this group in particular is for people with dementia and also their carers (if they want to come along). These group meetings are based around a different theme each time.
“The wonderful thing about this group is that it provides so many opportunities for people to re-engage with the activities they may have lost through their experience with dementia. They can access our resources and the lovely buildings around the city – the museums, libraries and West Yorkshire Playhouse for instance that many people may not have the confidence to access anymore. We reconnect people with their life interests and support them to go to places independently where they can.”
During our visit we meet a couple who are fairly new to the group but have already seen the benefits.
They said: “We consider ourselves fortunate as this group suits both of us. We’re able to participate and join in and that’s what it’s all about – you have that moment to take home with you that’s happy. And even if you have trouble after that, it doesn’t matter because you’ve had that one moment, that memory.”
On the other side of the room we bump into June with her husband, Len. Together, they’ve been coming to the group for over two years. We stop them to ask why peer support is so important to them.
June explains: “It brings you out of yourself because when you’ve got dementia, you tend to sit back and you don’t want to do anything. But when you come here, you see people that are the same as you and together we go to places that we never dreamt of going to. Some people don’t even move out of their house but we’ve been here about 2 years and we’ve done all sorts. It’s something to look forward to – it’s lovely.”
The Dementia Peer Support Group we visited is run by Adult Social Care in partnership with local organisations. It helps people to share their experiences and is open to anyone who is living with dementia in Leeds. For more information call 07891 271980 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To find out about other services and support for people with dementia in Leeds, visit www.leedsdirectory.org or call 0113 391 8333.
We’d like to say a big thank you to the Peer Support Group and their team of co-ordinators for allowing us to share this very memorable experience.