Sue Ryder's 'Dementia Together' service launches virtual meetings

Suffolk’s Dementia Together service led by Sue Ryder has seen a big increase in the number of calls to its helpline and has launched virtual meet-ups to support people living with dementia and their families during this difficult time.

Image of a Sue Ryder team member on a virtual meeting sat at computer desk for Dementia Together helpline

Dementia Together is jointly commissioned by Suffolk NHS and Suffolk County Council and is a single point of contact for people living with dementia and their families across Suffolk and Waveney. 

The service ensures that people receive the right information and support at the right time working in partnership with health, social care and the voluntary sectors. The service also offers comprehensive support for the carers own emotional wellbeing with the understanding that everyone has an individual journey.

Before the Coronavirus struck, alongside its helpline the service provided face to face support in the community through GP surgeries and via home visits to support those living with dementia across Suffolk.

However, the service has adapted the support offered through new, virtual ways. The service is offering four free virtual meet-ups a week starting from 4th May. These meet-ups will give people time to chat, exercise the brain, get creative and most importantly, have fun.

  • Monday, 12-12.30, lunch and chit chat
  • Wednesday, 11-11.40, managing your wellbeing
  • Wednesday, 14.00-14.40, reminiscing and crafty moments
  • Friday, 11.00-11.40, quiz of the week

The Dementia Together helpline is open 7 days a week for both new callers and for those currently registered with the service. The helpline’s volunteers offer emotional support as well as practical guidance about how to cope during this period of lock down, such as, creative activities that will keep the mind stimulated.

Anyone can call the helpline, whether they are a carer, someone with a diagnosis of dementia, a healthcare professional or someone worried about their own health and want to self-refer.

The current lockdown is having a huge impact on people living with dementia and their family. People living with dementia may not be remember that they have been told that we are in the midst of a global pandemic, they may not understand the need to socially distance and they may feel isolated and lonely. Constantly trying to explain the current situation to someone living with dementia can cause distress not only for the person living with dementia, but also their family carers.

Jo Marshall, Centre Director at Sue Ryder Neurological Centre The Chantry, said:

“Dementia Together is a vital support network in Suffolk and inevitably the current coronavirus situation is impacting the usual support networks for people with dementia and their family carers.

“We are hoping that the new virtual meet-ups will offer some respite and enable people to chat with those who understand what they’re going through. We would also urge anyone that is struggling to call our helpline on 08081 688 000.”

Robert Chandler, Transformation Lead at North East Essex, NHS Ipswich and East Suffolk, and NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group, said:

“During these uncertain and restrictive times it is even more important for those living with dementia to remain connected with support networks and the wider community”.

“It is fantastic that Dementia Together and other partners have adjusted their service delivery to ensure they remain in contact with clients and continue delivering amazing support to those in need across Suffolk. For those that have never participated in virtual meet ups, I would urge you to give it a go and have some fun not forgetting that should you be struggling and need further support, to utilise the helpline”.

More information

For further information, please contact the Dementia Together Helpline on 08081 688 000, email SRYC.DementiaTogether@nhs.net or visit www.dementia-together.com/