Pam, Dementia Cafe

I joined Willow Wood as a volunteer after 43 years as a RGN in the NHS, Private Sector and Charity and felt I still had much to offer. My first role was out on the Community Hub which visited different areas of Tameside and Glossop providing information and Willow Wood and its services.

Soon after I moved to volunteer with the Day Services Start Clinic which provides support, treatment, assessment, rehabilitation and therapy to those with life limiting illness.

I was also involved with the Dementia Cafe which helps those who are caring for a loved one with Dementia. The Cafe helps carers relax and enjoy quality time together over a cuppa and cake and I enjoy so much helping in whatever way I can. Social activities play a part in the cafe and I soon landed the role of Activities Organiser. Enjoyable afternoons spent with visits from Manchester Camerata, Willow Wood Choir, and talks on the History of Belle Vue, Home Safety, along with crafts such as silk painting and flower arranging.

However following the onset of the Covid 19 Pandemic and the temporary closure of Day Services the Dementia cafe was reduced to weekly Dementia Cafe Zoom meetings for those that were able. Thankfully this enabled us to maintain contact with carers and the two Dementia Nurses Nic and Sandra. I would provide a quiz for some of the weeks and Harold one of our regular participants would end our meetings with a song.

Now the Dementia cafe is up and running again on the second and fourth Friday of the month and I'm back in my role of Activities Organiser.

On the 10th June we are having a Jubilee party with vocalist Mike Nield and our own Harold who will be ready with a patriotic sing song.

Another of my volunteer interests is singing with the Willow Wood choir which I joined following the restart after the Pandemic. The choir will be singing on 2 June the Commonwealth jubilee song 'A Life Lived With Grace' at Tameside Hospital as the second beacon is lit and will be on both BBC and Sky news. The first beacon to be lit is at Buckingham Palace so we in Tameside are certainly honoured to be second in line. The choir will also be singing at the Jubilee Concert at Stalybridge Congregational Church on 11th June and at Stalybridge Beer festival in September.

Should anyone have ideas for activities which could be made available for the Dementia cafe please do not hesitate to contact me through the Hospice. A keyboard player would be more than welcome to assist with our Sing-a-longs at this time.

My husband John also volunteers as a driver, and enjoys his role very much too. During the lockdown while we were unable to support Willow Wood by volunteering we have made donations of much-needed PPE and felt we were still helping the Hospice in a practical way.

As I have said I enjoy my volunteer work at Willow Wood and will always remember the excellent care and compassion given to my late mum during her time in Inpatients eight years ago.

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