I started out running 2 day centre's for Alzheimer's Society in Bath. One closed in January 2020 due to funding. The other we hoped would be saved, unfortunately Covid happened and that brought it to an end. Our clients were left with very little choice of alternative services which met their individual needs, so me and 2 of my team who were looking at redundancy, ending a vocation that we are so passionate about. Worse still our clients families were put in an impossible situation where they would have to make decisions on how long they could continue to care for their loved ones without the respite break we gave them weekly.
It was at this point 'The Forget Me Not Club' project started to become real. Using my management experience and savings plus my colleagues support we decided to open up our own day club. It was hard finding premises that could meet our needs and that didnt cost the earth, we looked at quite a few options along the way with no luck, then we had a break and got offered the use of Saltford Community Hall.
So on 6th October 2020 we opened for the first time.
Of course we had many sleepless nights worrying if it would work, could we offer our clients what they needed and would they want to come. But worry soon went to excitement as the calls came in from our original clients families asking how do we get a place? We sent out a lot of publicity and social workers, community mental health teams and hospital teams soon knew about us and asked how they referred people to us. We currently open 3 days a week and have 18 regular attendees who come between 1 - 3 times a week. The feedback we have has been very positive, and although our set up is very basic due to the restrictions of the venue, but we make the best of it and ensure that every day is a positive experience for all. Feedback from our families is all very positive, and our clients leave us every day with a smile on their faces and looking forward to their next visit. Me and the team never start o rend the day wishing we hadn't done this. We keep costs low so that families can get the most out of us without breaking the bank and this is very important to us, as despite Dementia being a life limiting illness, our families do not get the financial support others do. Everyone has a hot home cooked meal each day with plenty of biscuits, cakes and drinks. Our oldest client is 98 years old, he has followed us from our last place, and says "its the only place I will go". Because we keep our numbers low, we can give more 121 support which in turn allows us to give people who other services cant manage a chance to have fun. We run many stimulating activities and exercise classes, do baking, sing, dance and generally have fun. If there is something someone wants to do, we try to make it happen. We see the person before the illness, and this means we really do get to know what they want and like. Our success is proven in the fact that all our previous families followed us.
So our next step is to find our own premises, somewhere we can decorate, furnish and generally make our own. Our clients are already looking forward to this, we had one gentleman tell us "I use to be a decorator, so I can help paint". What a lovely offer! Of course with consent of his family if that is what he wants to do we will assist him to do so. Everyone will be involved in this next step, be it choosing the colors' we have, the furniture, the layout or just sitting and directing us to get it right for everyone involved. But we cant do this without you. Any surplus funds will be reinvested back into services for people with Dementia. If you can help us, no matter how small we will be externally grateful. Our goal is to lease our own building, and have enough to pay the lease for the first year including set up costs so all other money we have can be used to engage entertainers, and provide for our clients.
Update - We have been lucky enough to find a suitable premises which we hope will be ready for us in the new year. So this funding is going to be essential to the success of this project. Please help us, however little, it all comes together to give the clients with Dementia a place they can call their own.
Our Trainee Therapy dog, one of the unique things about our club. Everyone loves to see Albie and give him a cuddle.