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In a bid to ensure effective, coordinated, community-based support for people who have been diagnosed with dementia, a pioneering dementia-specific advice centre has opened in Newcastle.

Designed to provide support and information services for people living with dementia, their families, friends and carers, the Centre, which is the first of its kind on Tyneside, is the result of a campaign led by North East specialist dementia charity, Dementia Matters.

The Brunswick Village-based specialist day and residential care service provider has partnered with fellow North East charity, Newcastle Carers and sourced funding from The Ballinger Charitable Trust and the Lloyds Bank Foundation, to get the project up and running with additional support from local authorities and the NHS.

Dr Fraser Quin, chief executive at Dementia Matters, said:

“One of the issues raised regularly by people with dementia and their families is that there is no effective, co-ordinated support available to them post-diagnosis. As a result, they either fail to access the advice and support that they really need, or they feel like they are passed between various different support groups, where they need to repeatedly explain their story.

“Mirroring the format of a dementia hub which was established in Stockton-on-Tees in 2015, Dementia Advice Centre Newcastle is the first Centre of its kind on Tyneside, providing advice and support to people living with dementia, their carers and families.

“We hope that the service will be of great benefit to people and that its success will help to shape the future of dementia care across the region for years to come.”

The new Centre, which has created three new full and part-time jobs, comprises a dedicated reception area, a hot-desk area for ‘drop-in’ advisers, an informal discussion area as well as confidential consultation rooms.

Based at the Outer West Community Service Centre, Dementia Advice Centre Newcastle is open Monday to Friday for people to access a range of dementia specific services, from information about day care and respite services, to specialist clinical assistance from the dedicated on-site Admiral Nurse.

“Using data gathered by our charity partner, Newcastle Carers, we established that services which benefitted from good public transport access, free parking and an easily accessible location tend to be used by more people, so we have selected the premises for Dementia Advice Centre Newcastle very carefully,” Dr Quin said.

“The Outer West Community Service Centre is ideally located to enable us to help more people affected by dementia to gain access to the help and support they need to improve their quality of living. Newcastle City Council have been extremely supportive in helping us identify and secure these premises.”

As the two core partners in the venture, Dementia Matters and Newcastle Carers will provide complementary services, with Dementia Matters’ team of specialists providing support for people with a dementia diagnosis and their families, while Newcastle Carers focus primarily on providing dedicated information, advice and support to carers around their role, entitlements and keeping themselves well.

“Caring can take quite a toll on people’s own health and wellbeing, so helping carers to get the balance right between looking after someone else and looking after themselves is really important, helping families to keep a good quality of life,” said Katie Dodd, chief executive officer at Newcastle Carers.

“Newcastle Carers will have a specialist carer information and advice worker on site to provide both practical and emotional advice and support to carers of all ages on topics such as general health, their caring role, managing finances, making time for themselves, housing and talking through how they feel.”

“It is our mission to make the Newcastle Dementia Advice Centre an exemplar of excellence in dementia services,” Dr Quin added.

“Once the concept of a coordinated support and advice service has been embedded, we hope that its legacy will be secured through additional funding so we can extend these services to reach even more people whose lives have been impacted in one way or another by dementia.”

Cabinet member for health and social care, Councillor Karen Kilgour said: “The Dementia Advice Centre is an exciting development and will play a key role in achieving our ambition to make Newcastle a great place to live well with Dementia.”

Councillor David Down, Lord Mayor of Newcastle upon Tyne, added:

“I can echo everything that Councillor Kilgour has said, this centre is a much-needed resource in Newcastle, and I am sure it will be both welcomed and well used.”

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