East Grampians Health Service continues to engage with consumers with dementia, and their carers, during COVID-19, despite the Memory Support Group being unable to meet.
This week is Dementia Action Week, which aims to show that many people living with dementia can continue to live well for many years after their diagnosis.
Dementia affects close to half a million Australians and that number is expected to double in the next 25 years.
The EGHS Patricia Hinchey Centre’s Memory Support Group offers support for people with memory loss, or who have been diagnosed with dementia, and their carer, to live independently in their own home, safely and positively for as long as possible.
“We offer a sensitive environment catering to the needs of individuals attending,” Patricia Hinchey Centre manager Jacinta Harman said.
“While we can’t meet at the moment in our traditional setting, the group, once we are able to meet properly again, offers supportive activities allowing carers and family time out or just a change of scenery.
“The group also assists people with memory loss to keep connected and stay in touch with their community.”
During the current restrictions, Patricia Hinchey Centre staff are making regular welfare visits to members of the group in their own homes.
One Ararat couple who have benefited from the group in the past and who are now enjoying visits from EGHS staff, are Michael and Elaine Thornbury.
Michael has vascular dementia and is cared for by wife Elaine in their own home, with the assistance of their daughters.
Mrs Thornbury, whose daughters live in Ararat, Stawell, Horsham and Ballarat, said she is very blessed to have them close by, especially during COVID-19.
“That family support is so important,” Mrs Thornbury said.
“But we are also blessed to have this support group. When we were able to meet, on Mondays we had the Memory Support Group and then on Wednesdays Michael would attend the Men’s Business Group too, who would take him on little trips, like out for lunch or just for a coffee.”
Mrs Thornbury said the group was important for keeping people socially active, but it has also been great for her as a carer, offering support and advice.
During COVID-19, Mrs Thornbury said the Patricia Hinchey Centre staff had been marvellous, still calling in on Mondays to check on their welfare.
“They pop in every week, even if it’s only for 20 minutes, and have a chat and see if we’re OK,” she said.
“Michael enjoys walking, so they often take him for short walks and they will also sit with him if I have to do a quick shop. We’re very lucky in Ararat to have this service.”
If you would like further information about the Memory Support Group, please contact Jacinta Harman on 5352 9326 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The Memory Support Group will recommence when safe and practical.