Course for dementia carers set to launch again

The Dementia Care, Essential Skills and Knowledge (DESK) course provides support for family members and unpaid carers who may need information about different dementias and who want to understand better the behaviour they are seeing from a loved one.

Around 270 family carers supporting 185 people with different types and stages of dementia have used the course since it began in 2011. It is estimated that around 7,500 people over 65 in Oxfordshire may have some form of dementia, with only a third having a diagnosis.

Oxfordshire County Council spends £15,000 to fund the ten three-session courses, which are delivered by Independent Dementia Care Trainer Catharine Arakelian in various local locations, with the next round beginning in July.

"An incredibly beneficial course"

Pauline Maclean cared for her 90-year-old mother Ethel Henderson and attended a DESK course in Kidlington in January this year.

Mrs Maclean, 69, said: "I found the course incredibly beneficial, as I was under quite a bit of strain as sole carer for my mum, and I got lots of practical advice from Catharine and learnt a huge amount from other carers who were in similar situations.

"There is a really supportive and jolly atmosphere at the course and it really made a difference. I learnt so much about dementia as an illness I learnt ways of dealing better well with the challenging behaviour that my mother was displaying.

"One day, she was anxious about large writing in blue crayon on the carpet, there wasn’t any, of course; but instead of disagreeing with her, which would have been confrontational, I had learnt about diversionary tactics from Catharine, and moved swiftly to a different subject, which benefitted both my mum and me."

Shared experience

Mrs Maclean, from Meadow Lane, Oxford, said her mother, who now lives in a care home, started to display symptoms of dementia around two years ago.

She said: "There were things that we noticed that my mother was doing which indicated to us that she had the early stages of dementia. It was 18 months down the line until I attended the course. I wish I had known about it earlier.

"I really felt uplifted from attending the course and it is an excellent example of taxpayers' money being well spent. The people there with me were mainly pensioners who were generally caring for elderly relatives or loved ones and I can't thank Catharine enough for the support that she provided."

Ms Arakelian said: “I encourage more than one person from a family to come along. Sharing the discussions and learning together often helps everyone to feel more positive about what they can do to help each other and their loved one."

Valuable support

Councillor Judith Heathcoat, Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: "Family carers do an excellent job in often very challenging and emotional circumstances and there are services out there like the Dementia Care, Essential Skills and Knowledge course which can offer valuable support.

"The course is moulded for participants to help them be positive about dementia; to share their experiences and to offer advice to family carers - I hope that those undertaking it benefit from what it has to offer."

Places on the course, which will take place in Kidlington; Witney; Banbury; Oxford and Henley in July, September, October and January, can be booked via 07751 809271; by email at admin@newdementiacare.org.uk or by sending a letter with contact details to New Dementia, 56 Evans Lane, Kidlington, OX5 2HY.

The courses start at the Baptist Church in Kidlington High Street on Thursday 10 July at 10am.

Travel expenses and the cost of providing replacement care whilst attending the course can be reclaimed from the county council.

Carers Oxfordshire

The county council also funds Carers Oxfordshire, a service which aims to make it simpler for carers to access information and support, via a number of methods, including a telephone and web-based information service; outreach support and peer support groups.

People wanting more information should click here or call 0845 050 7666.