Charity increases capacity for dementia patients

A charity has announced a major expansion to its dementia care services offered to people in Richmondshire.

Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington says it is increasing capacity by 70 per cent, meaning that an additional 26 people will be able to use its services.

The move will mean the recruitment of two extra staff members.

The existing dementia care facility in Darlington provides day care for up to 14 older people living with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, offering a space where individuals can enjoy socialising, crafts, games, and exercise in a safe and stimulating environment.

It also provides respite for the partners and other family members of those living with the progressive condition.

The improvements, which will cost an estimated £15,000 from donations and grants and supported by voluntary work, also involve investment in the design and décor of the facility. There will also be advanced security features, including sophisticated security entry keypads and a vestibule at the facility’s main entrance. These improvements are designed to create a more comfortable and safe environment for residents, fostering a sense of wellbeing and security.

This strategic development coincides with an organisational change following the departure of CEO Helen Hunter, who is leaving to take up a new role in another part of the country. Ms Hunter has been a dynamic force in the charity since early 2020 and her leadership was instrumental in navigating the charity through the pandemic and in launching several key services, including Meals at Home.

Interim CEO Kevin Cooper, who will be overseeing the upgrades to the dementia care facility, praised Ms Hunter’s leadership and her unwavering commitment to the welfare of older people in the region.

Mr Cooper said: “Helen’s leadership has been exemplary, especially in these challenging times. Her contributions have left an indelible mark on the charity and the community. The charity is deeply grateful for her service and we wish her all the best in her future role.”

Expressing her gratitude, Helen Hunter reflected on her time with Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington: “Leading this charity has been an extraordinary journey. I am incredibly proud of our collective achievements in supporting older people to live well and independently.

“The dedication and compassion of our team, including our army of volunteers, and community have been truly inspirational. Although I am looking forward to a new role in Lincolnshire, I am confident that the charity will have a positive future going forward; of which expansion of the dementia care facilities is a central part.”

Helen added: “The planned investment in dementia care facilities by the charity is a testament to its ongoing commitment to providing outstanding care and support for older individuals, particularly those living with dementia.”

Age UK North Yorkshire and Darlington provides a range of services and activities to help older people in the region stay connected, informed, and independent. These include information and advice, home support and social groups. For more information, please visit Age UK North Yorkshire & Darlington’s website or call 01325 362 832.