Dementia ‘safe haven’ established in Surrey based on national vision

A specialist maritime care home, in Banstead, Surrey, is looking to reach out to individuals and families living with the challenges of dementia, in support of the national drive to establish dementia-friendly communities.

The Royal Alfred Seafarers Society has embraced the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends campaign by offering a ‘safe haven’ for those living with memory loss, including their relatives.

Carers are working hard to ensure individuals at risk of social isolation do not have to cope with dementia on their own, being helped to integrate with the home’s life and with access to a wide range of interests and activities. Regular events are held at the home to entertain residents and visitors, while music therapy and reflexology have become popular additions.

Support groups and coffee mornings have also been organised by tenant and Dementia Friends Champion, Mrs Ros Ellis, who comments: “The support group is a fantastic way for relatives of residents to be able to talk to others in similar situations. There has been a fantastic response to the coffee morning and relatives really see the value in being able to talk to people who understand what they are going through.

“Some relatives need as much support as those suffering from the disease, so it is great that we have given them this opportunity. For me, it’s important relatives are getting something out of the group, rather than how many people attend. It’s great that loved ones want the group to continue.”

The Society is helped by strong community links with a local primary school and church, being well respected for its contribution to the lives of vulnerable adults for more than 150 years, although its own dedicated dementia centre is a recent development.

Chief executive, commander Brian Boxall-Hunt, adds: “The response to the support group set up by Ros has been overwhelming and helps increase our commitment to dementia care, creating a family support network which has been welcome by everyone.

“Providing the right services at the care home is extremely important to us. We regularly review the activities on offer to residents and if an activity is requested to help meet patients’ needs, we will try our best to accommodate it.”