DEMCAF– Helping carers and the Dementia sufferers they care for, to be less isolated and more involved with the local community
Demcaf are an Ageing Better in Birmingham group who meet on the first Tuesday of every month at St Georges church, Edgbaston to provide a support network, activities and socialising to people over 50 with Dementia, and their Carers.
What struck us about this group was that it was not just carers and the cared-for who came along, but also a large number of volunteers - people in the community and members of the church who are interested in the wellbeing of others and who want to lend a hand and make a difference to the lives of people in this very practical way.
We spoke with Jenny Astley, aged 78 from Selly Oak, Birmingham. For the past 12 months, Jenny has been coming to Demcaf with her husband David, who was diagnosed with dementia 3 years ago although the condition actually started about 9 years ago. Jenny is a member of St Georges church and she found about the group when someone from Ageing Better came to speak at the church and gave out Ageing Better carrier bags.
In the past, David was closely involved with church life at St Georges, as warden and also singing in the choir. Sadly, these are no longer possible for David with his memory loss and it is a constant challenge to find activities to keep him busy, which is why coming to the Demcaf group is so important for David and Jenny. Jenny said
“David always feels really welcomed and supported by the people in the group, he enjoys being involved in all the activities that are going on here “
Regular activities at Demcaf include craft, reading and reminiscing. On the day we visited, it was “Circus Skills”, which was certainly thoroughly enjoyed by all those who took part. At the end of the session, the group and volunteers get together for some singing, and, of course, there are always plenty of refreshments and cakes on offer!
“It’s a lovely group of people and I have certainly made new friends. Without these sorts of groups, you can get stuck in a rut and out of the habit of getting out and meeting other people. David doesn’t naturally mix with others so having the encouragement to get out and be more involved with the community helps him a lot”
Then we spoke to Nicola, who is 47 and lives in Malvern. Nicola has been coming to the group for about 6 months, she is the carer for her godmother, Dawn, aged 75.
Nicola found out about Demcaf from a friend who lives locally in Kings Heath, she travels into Birmingham for the group as she used to live in the area and there isn’t much provision in Malvern. She found out about the group from the people at the Ageing Better Carers hub, then made further enquiries, and was happy to join in and bring Dawn.
“I really like the Demcaf group as it is well run and there is a good structure to it, with plenty of varied activities going on, it’s good because I know it’s safe for me to leave Dawn while I go and chat with the others in the group, this gives me a very welcome break”.
Thanks to Eve and Cynthia, the groups’ organisers, people like Nicola are always made welcome and kept in touch with what’s going. Isolation and loneliness among people over 50 are a big problem in todays’ society, so it’s good to help people to make a connection and be more involved, something that the group definitely encourages to happen
Nicola added “Groups like this bring value and a different aspect to our lives, now I feel less isolated and alone, which has been a big help. I have made new friends here and outside of the group, I definitely feel more a part of the community - I hope that this group will be sustainable and carry on into the future. The one to one relationships I have developed here are really important to me and I want these to carry on”.
Demcaf meet between 10:30 AM and 12:30 PM on the 1st Tuesday of every month at St Georges Church, Westbourne Crescent, Edgbaston. B15 3DQ