Young Onset Dementia Group Receives Additional Vital Grant22 July 2022
The support session will provide carers with a safe and confidential space to meet others in similar situations, and extend the support group to carers with complex needs and issues who cannot attend the in-person support group meetings
For a number of years, St George’s Hospital Charity has awarded an annual grant (currently £9,200) to fund a monthly in-person support group for those living with young onset dementia and their carers. The meetings involve an informal chat, peer support, advice about useful resources such as counselling and regular special guest appearances to provide presentations on popular topics for both those with a diagnosis and their carers.
The group now has roughly 130 members. However, like many similar support groups, they were forced to switch to virtual meetings due to the Covid-19 pandemic, which increased the popularity of the groups.
Nikki Zimmermann who facilitates the Young Onset Dementia support meetings said: “When Covid came along, we couldn't meet in person. So we quickly switched the meeting to Zoom, which was very popular.
“When we went back to in-person meetings we noticed that there were certain carers that would always come to the Zoom session but couldn't come to the hospital because of their caring duties.”
Not only did the Zoom sessions highlight the struggle that some people find it difficult to attend in-person meetings, but Nikki also recognised that carers had complex needs and issues that required an additional bespoke support session for carers on their own.
Nikki said: “The sort of issues that they were bringing up were not suitable to discuss in the presence of loved ones living with young onset dementia or quite startling for those caring at an early stage provide.”
As a result, Nikki applied for another grant to host an additional monthly Zoom meeting that will address this gap and provide a confidential space for carers to discuss their complex situation, gain meaningful strategies, signpost them to the most appropriate services and gain peer support.
The Zoom meetings will have topic-themed sessions and follow-up calls where needed for care planning and transitioning, as well as help with applications to Continuing Health Care Funding and more complex issues with later stages and end of life.
Vivien Gunn, Head of Grants at St George’s Hospital Charity, said: “We are proud to continue supporting the Young Onset Dementia support group. They offer a vital service for those living with
Young Onset Dementia across south west London and Surrey.
As a result of the learning gained during the COVID pandemic, we are delighted to be able to award an additional grant to allow the particular needs of people caring for those with Young Onset Dementia to be properly addressed.”