Dementia course cares for the carers

Witney Gazette: Pauline Maclean, has used a DESK course. Picture: OX67754 Andrew Walmsley Buy this photo Pauline Maclean, has used a DESK course. Picture: OX67754 Andrew Walmsley

A WOMAN who cares for her elderly mother said a course to help those who look after people with dementia was a “life saver” and has now urged others to sign up.

Pauline Maclean cares for her 90-year-old mother Ethel Henderson who suffers from the disorder.

She took part in the Dementia Care, Essential Skills and Knowledge (DESK) course, funded by Oxfordshire County Council.

The free course is run by independent dementia care trainer Catharine Arakelian and gives people a chance to learn about behaviour associated with dementia.

Mrs Maclean, 69, said: “When I came back from the course on the first day, my husband turned round to me and said I looked like a different woman. It had an immediate positive effect on me. It is very hard being a carer.”

As reported in yesterday’s Oxford Mail, this week is Carers Week, which aims to raise awareness of support available to those who look after loved ones.

Mrs Maclean’s mother started displaying symptoms about two years ago, but the family did not know about the course until six months ago.

Around 270 family carers who look after 185 people have used the course since it began in 2011.

It is thought around 7,500 people over the age of 65 in the county may have some form of dementia, with only a third being diagnosed.

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The county council spends £15,000 to fund the ten three-session courses.

Mrs Maclean, of Meadow Lane, Oxford, added: “I found the course incredibly beneficial as I was under quite a bit of strain as sole carer for my mum.

“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 and I learnt ways of dealing better 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.”

Dementia care trainer 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.”

Councillor Judith Heathcoat, the 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.”

  • For more information and to book a place, call 07751 809271 or email admin@newdementiacare.org.uk The courses start at the Baptist Church, Kidlington High Street, on July 10 at 10am. Travel expenses and cost of providing replacement care while attending the course can be reclaimed from the council.

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