Dementia café's urgent call for volunteers after lockdown rise

Thorpe St Andrew Dementia Café in Yarmouth Road  

Thorpe St Andrew Dementia Café in Yarmouth Road - Credit: Google Maps

A dementia café has issued an urgent call for more volunteers with the demand for services soaring during the pandemic. 

Thorpe St Andrew Dementia Support in Yarmouth Road has recently seen 10 new couples in as many weeks come forward asking to attend.

Fiona Bass, who runs the service, said there was only one husband carer when they went into lockdown, but that number has now increased to eight. 

She added: "A lot of these couples, some dads and daughters, have not been anywhere for months, and their dementia has deteriorated in lockdown. They badly need social interaction."

Younger adult comforting older adult

Dementia services have been impacted by lockdown in the Norwich area - Credit: Getty Images/Comstock Images

There are hopes to reach a stage where there is a volunteer per couple. 


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Town councillor Stuart Snelling, who is involved with the service, said: "Lockdown has caused a lot of people to get worse from being isolated. The cared for have had obvious problems with a lack of mental stimulation.

"The carers are the ones in desperate need of assistance to help the cared for get the support they require."

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The Age UK dementia Marion Road Day Centre in Thorpe Hamlet has also seen an increased demand in services during the pandemic with a new support worker due to start in August to help address the need.

The re-launch of the Marion Road Day Centre, Norwich. Photo Simon Finlay Photography.

The Marion Road Day Centre - Credit: Simon Finlay Photography

Manager Alison Bessey said the centre was initially open on Tuesdays and Thursdays after reopening post-lockdown, but Wednesday sessions have now also been introduced.

Pre-Covid, the average age of those needing support was 85 plus, but Mrs Bessey said that, since April, it has dropped to 70 plus. 

Mrs Bessey added: "When somebody is living with dementia they need day care or respite care and often go through social services. A lot of clients are bypassing county council funded care and coming straight to us. 

"Often the person will be naturally sedentary so lockdown has really impacted their physical health as well as mental.

"People with memory problems can't read a book or watch television so they need that constant stimulation and interaction."

The centre will continue to follow pre-Freedom Day rules, wearing PPE and masks to protect the vulnerable. 

Thorpe Dementia Support runs a café on the third Wednesday of every month. It can be contacted on 01603 701048.

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