When Heather Sherratt’s mum Patricia died in 2015 aged 75, she had a diagnosis of Lewy body dementia. Not picked up until its late stages, Heather says she was left feeling unsupported and guilt-ridden after her mother’s death.
Now the charity worker has launched a support group especially for dementia carers - called a dementia cafe - which she thinks will provide the missing piece in the jigsaw.
Heather, who is a carer support worker with health and social care charity Making Space, said: “I know what it’s like to feel on your own when caring for a friend or relative with dementia.
“Practical help and activity sessions are useful, but what dementia carers often need most is a place where they can talk about their loved one’s dementia journey and how it is affecting them.
Dementia carers can feel burdened with guilt about the quality of care they provide and carry a sense that they can’t do right for doing wrong.
“When I was caring for my mum, I used to find myself getting frustrated with how long everything took and how difficult life had become, and then feeling guilty afterwards.”
Heather says that carers need to be able to talk about these difficult emotions and to realise that others are also struggling with conflicting feelings.
She said: “I used to visit the memory team and go to singing groups with my mum,but there was nothing we could go to that was about supporting me to be a better carer. I hope these regular get togethers will now fill that gap for many people”.
The monthly sessions are called Helping All Needing Dementia Support (HANDS) and are designed for dementia carers to attend with their loved ones. They can take part in optional activities or just talk over tea and biscuits. All of the staff at the centre where the sessions will take place have been trained as Dementia Friends.
HANDS dementia cafe is at Pops Outdoor Adventure Centre,The Bowling Green Pavillion, Rosehill Park, Rawmarsh on the last Monday of every month, 10am-12noon, term time only. The next date is Monday 27 November. For more information contact Heather Sherratt on 01226 288 772.