Andy is the founder of a new and innovative service which provides daytime activities for people living with dementia.
He has a wide experience of care services for older people including working as a home carer, providing support to enable people with dementia to stay in their own homes. As a result of his wife’s diagnosis with a rare form of vascular dementia in 2016 he is therefore acutely aware of how difficult life can be in trying to support a loved one and give them the best life has to offer.
His aim along with the rest of the Dementia Active team is to provide a safe and welcoming environment, where people with dementia can relax and join in activities designed to support and maintain their ability levels. Crucially this provides family members with some much needed time to themselves.
Andy has a particular interest in developing activities using the principles underlying Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST). This seeks to stimulate and utilise people’s cognitive strengths in order to help them maintain their lives in their own homes.
Melissa is a qualified primary trained teacher who has a long held interest in brain function. Initially this was from the perspective of the child’s developing brain, but in the last decade since the loss of her mother to vascular dementia she has focused on studying the decline in cognitive ability experienced by people with dementia. Of particular interest to her is the manner in which various forms of dementia impact in quite different ways upon brain function, along with the consequent limitations people experience in their daily lives.
A late career break in order to do a degree in ceramics has led to an interest in using the arts in dementia activities.
In recent years Melissa has had experience in the home care sector; has worked for the NHS in the Oxfordshire Supported Hospital Discharge Team (now known as HART) and also for the Alzheimer’s Society as an Advisor in North Oxfordshire. In this role it became clear that services which are able to offer stimulating activities for people with dementia but which also do not require the presence of a carer are very limited if non existent. For this reason she has chosen to join Dementia Active as it is able to offer just such a service and in particular is developing the use of Cognitive Stimulation Techniques (CST) for those with mild to moderate dementia.
Gilly was employed in the customer service sector for a number of years until she felt drawn to joining the prison service as an activity coordinator and support worker for the families and children visiting relatives in prison.
She brings to the team organisational skills, resourcefulness when creating something from nothing and an ability to empathise.
She has a love of crafting and values the positives that this can bring to people’s lives. The crafting movement in this present age of consumer throw away belongings is gaining recognition for the way in which it brings people closer to materials and processes and enables everyone’s capacity for creativity to express itself.
In Gilly’s former role working with the children of prisoners she used play as a means of enabling them to safely experience their childhood and also to find their own voices and identities through play. Much of the time children can end up being forgotten whilst their parents struggle to cope with the stresses of daily living. It is that same desire to give a voice to people with dementia that has motivated Gilly to join Dementia Active as a Group Leader.