A new dementia helpline has been launched by a Cricklewood charity offering advice and support for anyone concerned about the condition.
The service is run by Ashford Place and is aimed at people with dementia, their families and anyone in the borough with questions about the illness.
The helpline, which provides general advice and puts people in touch with other services that can help, is funded by a £68,000 grant from City Bridge Trust – the City of London Corporation’s charity funder.
Prior to the pandemic and lockdowns, Ashford Place ran a range of services for people with dementia, including dementia cafes, peer support groups and health and wellbeing sessions.
Due to Covid-19, services are currently delivered online, by telephone and, when safe and allowed under tier restrictions, in socially distanced small groups.
Danny Maher, Ashford Place chief executive, said: “Sometimes people think a dementia diagnosis means that’s it – your life is over – but in fact, people can continue to live full lives and early diagnosis means they can plan ahead and avoid problems further down the line.
“If people are concerned about memory loss in themselves or a loved-one, they often don’t know where to turn to get information or support, and trying to access services can be stressful and time-consuming.
“The helpline means we can connect them with others who can help, take the stress out of that process and make it as simple as possible for them to get the support they need.”
Ashford Place hopes the service will promote early intervention, which can help people take control of their lives, plan for the future and live well – as well as tackling some of the misconceptions about dementia.
Marianne Wilson, 72, from Wembley, has cared for her 74-year-old husband Tom since his dementia diagnosis four years ago. Regular attendees at the Ashford Place dementia cafe every Tuesday for the last two years, it has become increasingly apparent that Tom’s memory and perception has been failing in the last six months.
Sadly, Tom was admitted to hospital after a fall and moved to a care home, where he still lives, and has only seen Marianne once in that time.
Marianne described support from Ashford Place as a "Godsend" as staff helped her to negotiate funding for the care home – an experience that would have been extremely stressful to handle on her own.
They have also helped her book phone calls with Tom, as she is finding being separated from her husband "almost unbearable".
Now, she can pick up the phone and speak to a Dementia Gateway Assessor for a chat on the new helpline if she needs support or company.
Dhruv Patel, chairman of the City of London Corporation’s city bridge trust committee, said: “Ashford Place is already doing great work to provide advice, support and activities for people with dementia, but Covid-19 means the social interaction which is so important for people with the condition has reduced.
“This new service will provide a much-needed lifeline for people to get their questions about dementia answered and, if necessary, access the support they need to manage the condition and plan for the future.”
The helpline is open to anyone living in Brent and can be reached by leaving a message on 07904 202517 at any time of day.