We are a small, local charity set up in mid 2012 to support younger people (that is, people of working age) in Berkshire who develop young onset dementia. We fill a much needed slot between the more formal aspects of care within the NHS, the Social Services and charitable sectors.
YPWD (Younger People With Dementia) was established as a charity because of a shortage locally of support and practical help to meet the specific needs of people who develop a dementia at an early age, as well as their families. There are eight trustees – with mixed backgrounds in business and finance, the NHS and Social Services and also experience of living with family members who developed young onset dementia.
It is estimated that the incidence of dementia in the under-65 age group across Berkshire is around 500, many of whom are unknown to local service providers. The needs of younger people with dementia and their carers differ greatly from older people as the pattern, progression and burden of illness are all different. Some will still be working, with young families and all that entails - paying a mortgage, council tax, day to day expenditure and so on. The impact of the disease is reflected not only in the patient but in family members – husbands, wives, children – whose lives are severely affected.
One of our aims is to increase therapeutic projects within the area. We employ ten full time and part time Carer Support Workers and also have two of the UK's only Admiral Nurses specialising in Young Onset Dementia working alongside us. We have set up the Harmony Choir which meets on a weekly basis during term time and we now run workshops that include furniture restoration, gardening, a running group, performing arts, dance and water sports. There is also a need for social events where people can meet safe in the knowledge that they are with people who understand their situation. We try and organise such an event on a bi-monthly basis. We also organise educational sessions annually, covering 'understanding dementia' and 'living with dementia' too.
Statistics prove our success - a recent study of our workshop / activities participants showed significant savings to the NHS in terms of reduced GP and Hospital visits and a calmer and more enjoyable life style for the person living with dementia and their families and carers.
We try to be flexible in how we use our resources, continuing to listen to patients and their families, and at the same time not duplicating services which are already provided on a statutory basis. Every penny that we receive in donations or sponsorship goes directly towards supporting our "clients" - our overheads are minimal.