Alzheimer’s Society launches South Wales advocacy and befriending projects

The official South Wales launch of Alzheimer’s Society’s Advocacy and Befriending services funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s AdvantAGE programme took place a few weeks ago.

David Melding AM officially launched the projects and BBC Radio Cymru presenter Beti George attended to show her support.

‘Voice and Choice’ is an all Wales specialist dementia advocacy service. The Advocacy Service provided by Alzheimer’s Society aims to empower and support people living with dementia to express their views, wishes and concerns; to support them in their choices and in securing entitlements. Advocates will provide information and support to access services across all providers and will help during times of transition and crisis. They will work to help obtain outcomes the person living with dementia wants and prevent outcomes they don’t want such as not moving into a residential home but staying in their own home or changing carers because they are not happy with the current ones in place. They will work to protect their rights and secure their entitlements. Advocacy enables the voice and views of a person living with dementia to be heard when decisions are being made about their lives and care.

‘Side by Side’ is an all Wales befriending service which, through a team of trained volunteers, will provide help to reduce the social isolation experienced by many living with a diagnosis of dementia. The volunteers will be managed by Alzheimer’s Society Befriending Managers across Wales who will develop the services in response to local need. In Cardiff, for example, the Befriending Manager is focusing on the needs of the Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) community. One-to-one and group befriending will offer opportunities for social interaction and will help to increase confidence. Carers will also be able to benefit from telephone befriending.

Sue Phelps, Director for Alzheimer’s Society in Wales said: ‘There are nearly 44,000 people with dementia in Wales with this figure set to rise to nearly 56,000 by 2021. Through this project we aim to reach out and offer companionship and support to those who may not have otherwise been able to access our support services.

‘People with dementia and their carers can often experience feeling of loneliness and isolation, especially in the more rural parts of Wales. They can also struggle to negotiate their way through confusing legal and social care systems at a time when they are experiencing other challenges in their lives. Alzheimer’s Society is committed to reaching out to all people with dementia and their carers in order to help them and support them to live well with dementia now and in the future.

‘We are delighted that, thanks to the generous support of the Big Lottery Fund, we can bring these much needed services to Wales.’

Telephone befriending will benefit carers who have difficulties leaving their home or who are not able to access other available services. The one-to-one befriending will offer companionship, emotional and practical support to a person living with dementia. A volunteer will be matched to that person by taking into account current interests, hobbies, life histories and backgrounds. The group befriending will support people to maintain and form new friendships, participate in activities within a group setting and help them to reacquaint themselves with interests they could no longer participate in without support.

Advocacy services for people with dementia will help people living with dementia when making key decisions in their lives and will empower and support them to make the right choices for them. Trained professionals will work with them to express the wishes and views of the person with dementia to key professionals, organisations and carers, standing by their side every step of the way.