A NEW HELPLINE connecting the family and friends of people with a devastating dementia diagnosis with much-needed advice and support has been launched today [May 21] to mark the beginning of Dementia Action Week.


Sunderland Carers Centre has set up a dedicated Dementia Advice Service, which offers information and guidance to the loved ones of people living with the heart-breaking condition.  The service will ensure that those who care for a person diagnosed with dementia can access information, advice and guidance about what to expect, other services that could help, or any other general questions or enquiries.

By calling Sunderland Carers Centre’s main phone line, people can connect with an advisor who can provide practical guidance or signpost to additional support.  The idea for the service came from the team at the centre, many of whom have loved ones who live with dementia, in response to the growing demand from families contacting the centre’s Carer Contact Team and as the Centre’s action to improve the lives of people affected by Dementia – the theme of this years Dementia Action Week.

Vera Maw, Carer Services Manager at the centre, said that she expected the new helpline to add enormous value to carers across the city.

She said: “Dementia is not only a devastating illness, it is a complex one and everyone’s experience of dealing with the condition and the challenges that come with it, is different. 

“Coping with the news that someone you care about has dementia can be really hard emotionally, so we offer a listening ear, and answer some of the immediate questions that people may be left with after their loved one has received their diagnosis”.

The support does not stop there.  While there are a number of services available to people caring for others, at specific stages of their dementia, the Dementia Advice Service offers ongoing support and families can contact the Dementia Advice Service at any point throughout their dementia caring time.

“Dementia is a pathway and at every stage of that journey, the condition can change and evolve.  There are a number of wonderful services, like the Memory Protection Service and The Essence Service, that support people at the beginning of the journey, but often, as the condition progresses, that support network ebbs away, and the friends and family members of the person with the condition can feel isolated and exposed.  We hope to fill that void.”

“We want this to be a holistic service – one that responds to the needs of the carer at every single stage and not just at certain points,” added Vera, who lost her dad to dementia. 

“Having experienced being a carer to a person with dementia myself, I know just how tough it can be, and like my colleagues, felt this was a necessary addition to the Carers Centre service offer.”

As well as offering the telephone service, people can message the centre via the Quick Contact section at www.sunderlandcarers.co.uk and a member of the team will be in touch within 48 working hours. 

Graham Burt, chief executive of Sunderland Carers Centre, said: “We know that dementia diagnoses are on the increase and that it is a prevalent condition in Sunderland.  For the family members and friends who may be tending to the needs of the person living with the condition, it can be so tough – not just practically but emotionally. 

“Dementia brings with it so many challenges and we want to offer support – to answer those questions that may seem trivial, to tell people about other services that might be useful and to support carers to become as resilient as possible and prepare for the path ahead as they care for their loved one.”

The Sunderland Carers Centre offers a range of services, that are free to access.  As well as its Understanding Dementia course, the centre will soon be launching ‘Guide to’ events that focus in on some of the specific concerns carers of people with dementia may have.”

To find out more about Sunderland Carers Centre, visit www.sunderlandcarers.co.uk, call them on 0191 549 3768 or pop in to the centre on Thompson Road.