Dementia centre’s tips and courses for carers

ADVICE and support for carers is something the Dementia Services Development Centre advises on a global scale.

But, being on Stirling’s doorstep, the centre is always keen that locals are reaping the benefits of its knowledge too.

Centre director Professor June Andrews said: “DSDC is an international centre but as a local resource in Stirling, we want to make things better for people with dementia and their carers here.

“Family carers make a huge difference. If you have dementia and you have someone living with you at home you are 20 times less likely to go into care.

“Although there are some lovely care homes in our area, it can seem expensive and people sometimes don’t want to go into care but would rather stay in their own home for as long as possible.

“It can be important for families just to delay the day when even home care is needed.

“Research shows that carers don’t get enough information about how to cope and what help exists. Sometimes their own health suffers from the demands of caring. They may not look after themselves because they have so much to do.”

DSDC – with funding from Comic Relief – is holding “Ten Tips for Carers” events at the Iris Murdoch Building on the Stirling University campus.

The “Ten Tips” is a short book based on research that outlines simple things anyone can try for each of the common problems that carers face such as aggression, wandering, sleeplessness, agitation and anxiety. It was written by Professor June Andrews in collaboration with the University of Leeds and around 30,000 copies have either been sold or given away around the UK and beyond.

People who have attended Ten Tips events really appreciate the knowledge of the university staff.

Shirley Law, who leads the programme, is not only an experienced nurse and teacher, but a family carer herself.

She said: “It is moving to hear what carers are dealing with, and appalling how little support many of them have had. No one even tells you about the local resources that are available. The stories that people tell are shocking.”

One of the carers said: “Care sucks money out of everything…Loss in dementia is not limited solely to the person you care for. At risk is your identity, your independence…..”

But carers say even this short event supports and informs them and puts them in touch with how they can access what is there for them in the community.

Two more Ten Tips days are planned for August and October. Places are filling up but people can ring DSDC to secure a place.

Among the topics covered are: How exercise can reduce aggression and anxiety; Why getting out in daylight during the day can reduce night-time wandering; How increasing the light level in someone’s home can reduce the symptoms of dementia.

It also looks at: why it does not help to argue when the person gets things wrong – they might still forget the thing you were trying to correct, but they’ll remember that they are angry with you, and that does not help.

What difference eating and drinking right can make (do some foods make a difference?) and how to arrange legal power of attorney are also covered.

The centre is offering 30 free spaces on their “Transitions in Dementia Care” course starting in September. The spaces are being offered to health professionals, social care workers and family carers across Forth Valley who work or live in the Stirling area.

Places are being funded by the Big Lottery as part of the DSDC’s plan to make Stirling Scotland’s first dementia-friendly city.

The online course focuses on the important points in the lives of people with dementia and their carers, such as diagnosis, moves to residential care and end of life care.

Professor June Andrews said: “These transition points are difficult times for family members, and many do not receive the support and information they need from the professionals they come into contact with.

“This module uses current literature and research to enable practitioners and care staff to identify key transition points, particularly the precursors and triggers for transitions and to facilitate a better understanding of these in order to offer the kinds of support needed.

“By the end of the module participants will be better equipped to work with families and the person with dementia, and to help them navigate the changes that occur through the journey with dementia.”

The course, which usually costs £640, starts with an introductory day at the University of Stirling on September 4 followed by 14 weeks of online learning.

To be considered for a free place complete the application form at or request a form from [email protected] .

The closing date for funded applications is August 13.

For further information call 01786 467746.