A day in the life of the Dementia Day Breaks service...

THIS week, we are featuring a day in the life of a Guild Care service called Dementia Day Breaks.

This service is provided on Wednesdays, at Linfield House, for people over 50 with a memory problem or a diagnosis of dementia. It certainly is a very different kind of service to what most people imagine.

Customers are picked up from home by minibus and join their friends for a get-together in a very relaxed, social atmosphere.

When everyone has arrived, they chat and unwind over coffee and biscuits.

Last Wednesday, the men in the group were chatting about the previous week, when they had made Valentine’s cards and small posies for their wives.

Rick, one of Guild Care’s support workers, gets on famously with the men in the group, and begins the day with a ‘day breaks’ quiz, which everyone enjoys. It was very quiet to begin with and people would only reply if a question was directed to them, but it wasn’t long before they opened up and, once involved, they began to answer questions with more confidence.

When they didn’t know the answer, they would shout out a funny answer and the group would burst into fits of laughter.

The quiz ended with a new high score, which really impressed the staff. A couple of the ladies took advantage of the hairdressers and had their hair done, which was a real treat.

Coffee over, it was time for Boccia, a Paralympic sport played in teams, where balls are rolled across the floor to a circle or hoop without anyone standing up. The group was very competitive – not everyone remembered how to play, but staff and volunteers encouraged them and they were soon working in teams to attain the highest score.

There was lots of banter and some keen sportsmanship.

Having worked up an appetite, the chef at Linfield House served lunch, which was fish in parsley sauce or sausage plait with fresh vegetables and gravy.

There were lots of compliments about the food.

“The hot meal is important to me and I absolutely love it every time,” said Vera, tucking into her ginger sponge dessert.

If the weather is reasonably fine, everyone is taken out on the minibus in the afternoon.

The venue was Marine Gardens, where Rick took a small group of people for a walk along the front in the fresh air, and then everyone stopped at a café and chatted over a cup of tea and cake. Ray said: “I liked the quiz best of all and it’s always nice coming out on the bus.”

Customers are then taken home on the bus, in this door-to-door service.

The service offers a few hours’ welcome respite for carers in a safe, stimulating and fun environment for everyone who attends.

Jacqui Swindells, day services manager for Guild Care, said: “When our new dementia wellbeing centre opens at the end of the year, we shall be able to provide a range of services for carers and people with dementia.

“We are planning to open the centre seven days a week and provide respite, support and information for people throughout their dementia journey – it’s not only about caring and support, it’s about enabling, encouraging and friendships and that’s what the team do best of all.”