A SMALL corner of the country is leading the way in breaking down the stigmas that are attached to dementia.
For years people were reluctant to say the word, never mind talk about the condition, but thankfully that attitude is changing – no more so than in Wigtownshire.
Communities in the south- west feel the impact of dementia, just like those in every part of Scotland, but being rural and more isolated only amplifies the situation.
Round trips to Dumfries, 70 miles away, are impossible for many.
Showing true community spirit, locals have come together to not only raise cash for a new specialist facility opening in Stranraer next month, but also to talk and learn more about dementia.
Whether it’s someone in their family, a neighbour or even someone coming into their place of business, locals in Wigtownshire are becoming more knowledgeable so they can assist those living with the condition.
Clare Stroyan is service manager in Wigtownshire for Alzheimer Scotland and is proud of the work being done in the area.
“When I came here in 2014 the staff were frustrated,” she said.
“Day care was in a small annexe building that looked like a garage, the resource centre had moved several times over the years and at that point was in a leased building with water pouring through the ceiling.
“Yet we had a waiting list for day care and our community groups – such as football memories, drop-in cafes, knit and natter and carers support – were flourishing.
“I could envisage what the future could be like and how it would be so much better for staff, carers, families and visitors.”
Clare came across a former NHS building, Cromarty House, and knew it would be perfect for their needs.
Alzheimer Scotland bought the building, which needed substantial work.
Clare, a former palliative care nurse, continued: “I know times are hard, so I didn’t expect substantial financial support from the community.
“£5000 would have been wonderful and £10,000 was beyond my wildest dreams, so to currently be sitting at £26,000 – and growing – is amazing. Hopefully we can now reach £50,000.”
Clare is hoping to establish sensory day care at Cromarty House as well as evening care and a host of other services for the 100-plus families they help.
And while there have been numerous fundraising drives, people’s willingness to learn more about dementia has been just as invaluable.
“We’re beginning to overcome the stigma,” Clare said.
“We go to schools and talk to pupils and give them Dementia Friends training.
“Workers in shops, supermarkets and banks are also being taught – our Dementia Friendly community worker is as busy as can be.
“When we stood outside Morrisons with bucket collections, lots of people came to talk about dementia and said the facility would be of benefit to them.
“Lots of people are helping, from the Rotary Club in Stranraer who will marshal our upcoming Memory Walk on September 18 to the lady in Wigtown who opens her beautiful garden to the public for donations, which she gives to us.”
Clare added: “The community thought this was something the area needed and I felt we had a duty to respond.
“The response from that community and the way the staff work alongside the volunteers is like a flagship for Alzheimer Scotland.
“This will make a big difference to people.”
Visit memorywalksscotland.org to sign up to your local Memory Walk now.
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