By Andy Hirst, Special Correspondent
More than 4,500 people are living with dementia in Kirklees with the figure set to rise to over 7,500 within the next decade.
But there are many more with the condition who may not have been diagnosed and with the bulk of the care falling to relatives and friends, dementia is having a massive impact on many thousands of lives in our area.
But help is at hand across Kirklees for people diagnosed with it and their carers.
Kirklees Dementia Hub provides people with the advice they need quickly and also helps businesses and organisations to become dementia friendly.
The hub’s services range from an information and advice phone line through to helping people diagnosed with dementia to get the practical help and support they need at a critical time in their lives.
It means all the information and help is easily accessible and pulls all kinds of different services together.
Hub co-ordinator Lauren Dowie said: “We don’t provide care ourselves. We are here to find out about the person with dementia’s needs and then put them in direct contact with those services which can help. Everyone’s needs are different but there are a large range of services out there wanting to help.
“It’s all about supporting people to stay as independent for as long as possible.”
The advice the hub can offer makes the world of difference for people with dementia and their families.
The husband of a woman diagnosed with dementia said: “My worker has been my rock and helped me to see lots of support available to me as well as helping me access things I wouldn’t have known about such as orthopaedic care for my wife to help her walking.
“My worker is always asking what more she can do to help and I really look forward to our calls to check in with how I am. It’s nice to just talk to someone who listens and acknowledges how hard it can be. Without this service I would have been in a very different and much worse off position. The morale support has been fantastic, especially through the pandemic knowing someone could help and would be calling as my son lives away so my support is limited.
“The service has meant I have lots more available support including financial help as my worker helped me with accessing Attendance Allowance which has been very helpful in additional care for my wife to help me with the nights.”
Kirklees Dementia Hub is funded by Kirklees Council and is a partnership between Community Links, a non-profit provider of mental health and wellbeing services in Yorkshire, and the charity Age UK Calderdale and Kirklees.
The information and advice line number is 01484 503908 for people in Kirklees with dementia and their carers, families or loved ones. It gives information and advice on a wide range of topics including financial support, getting a diagnosis, support for both carers and the person with dementia. It can put them in contact with social groups and other services. The line is open Monday to Thursday from 9am to 5pm and from 9am to 4.30pm on Fridays.
Once someone has been diagnosed with dementia, Kirklees Dementia Hub provides a more detailed service that is tailored to meet the specific needs of that person.
The hub’s dementia support co-ordinators help the person and their relatives to draw up a personal plan and puts them in direct contact with the services they need.
These can include support with housing, how to create a dementia friendly home, benefits such as Attendance Allowance, social workers, organising a lasting power of attorney, help with emotional wellbeing and the support available for carers.
Kirklees Dementia Hub also wants people throughout Kirklees to understand more about living with dementia so society as a whole can understand the challenges both the person and their relatives face.
The hub has a community engagement worker who can talk to business and organisations that want to become dementia friendly. This ranges from training staff to recognise the signs of dementia among customers and then giving them more time and help through to supporting employees who may be caring for a relative with dementia or people with dementia who want to carry on working.
The hub wants as many businesses and organisations as possible to join the Kirklees Dementia Friendly Community Steering Group, a monthly meeting where dementia professionals and organisations share knowledge, experience and support.
One idea to come from the group has been put into action – a special form people with dementia can fill in before they see a GP to ensure the doctor gets a full picture of the dementia-related problems the person is experiencing.
Kirklees Dementia Hub also gives the chance for people with dementia to have their say with its project called Kirklees Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project – or Deep for short. Their views are then taken to the steering group to see if any of their ideas can be put into action or improvements made to services.
To contact Kirklees Dementia Hub for any of its services phone 01484 411074 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. The phone line is open from 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and until 4.30pm on Fridays.
The hub’s twitter tag is @KDH_Dementia
Kirklees Dementia Hub website is https://www.commlinks.co.uk/?service=kirklees-dementia-hub
What is dementia?
Dementia describes a set of symptoms which cause the ongoing decline of the brain. One of the most common is Alzheimer’s disease and as it progresses the chemistry and structure of the brain changes, leading to the death of brain cells.
Here are some of the tell-tale signs of dementia.
Asking the same questions repeatedly
Mood swings or aggressive behaviour
Confusion about the time of day
Losing things or putting things in inappropriate places
Getting lost in previously familiar places
Difficulty understanding people and finding the right words
Repetitiveness (doing the same task over and over)
* Written by former Huddersfield Examiner Head of Content ANDY HIRST who now runs his own Huddersfield-based agency AH! PR specialising in press releases, blogging and copywriting for business in Yorkshire and across the UK.