Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Dementia families offered breaks

Elderly patient in hospital gown
The charity said dealing was often an "intensive situation"

People in Cornwall struggling to care for a family member with dementia are to be offered more help by a charity.

The Shared Lives project is training volunteers so patients and carers can have breaks from their situations.

The South West Adult Placement Scheme (Swaps), which is running the project, said such breaks were often vital for families.

It is being tested in Newquay and could be extended to the rest of the county if it is a success.

Under the scheme, trained volunteers can provide care at patients' homes while their usual carers enjoy a short break.

You're watching your loved one's personality almost draining away from them
David Messenger, Shared Lives

Shared Lives co-ordinator David Messenger he said that rest breaks were needed because the illness was very often an "intensive situation".

He said: "With it, people forget how to eat, how to use the toilet.

"For carers, feeling you are not able to carry on anymore is very emotionally demanding.

"You're watching your loved one's personality almost draining away from them. They become a different person and that is upsetting on any level, let alone the person you love most in the world."

A report published by the Alzheimer's Society has criticised the amount of money being wasted by the NHS on looking after people with dementia.

Beverly Chapman, lead dementia nurse for the county's primary care trust said, it was following the scheme with interest to see how, if successful, it could benefit more people.

She said: "We've got to get all of our services right, hence we're looking at things like the Newquay pilot and liaison."



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