Unhappy with changes being made to dementia support services

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A Dunstable woman was left ‘astounded’ that The Alzheimer’s Society will no longer be able to run Singing For The Brain sessions in the town.

Loraine Burgess, of Great Northern Road, is unhappy that Central Bedfordshire Council put their dementia support services out for tender.

She said: “I’m astounded. Singing unlocks the brain and there is evidence that being soulfully engaged is good for dementia sufferers.

“These situations are win, win, the carers get together, they do not feel so alone and the sufferer is empowered by the singing. These classes are so essential and beneficial to those that use them.

“When the council put their dementia services provider out for tender surely they should have looked for an equal or better service than the one currently being offered! Maybe it will be but surely the users should be kept informed.”

In a letter to Loraine, Leader of Central Bedfordshire Council James Jamieson, said: “We have recently been through a tendering exercise for our dementia support services, all of which were previously provided by the Alzheimer’s Society.

“Whilst the society will continue to provide some services, other organisations were successful in bidding to run elements of support and these include Carers in Bedfordshire and the Tibbs Foundation Trust.

“We are now in the process of discussing the process of transition to new arrangements which, whilst they won’t be identical to those provided previously by the Alzheimer’s Society, will be designed to maintain the service that will continue to meet people’s needs and will include music for memory activities as well as other stimulation therapies.”

Shirley Willis is a carer for her husband, an Alzheimer’s sufferer, she wrote to councillor Jamieson. She said: “Carers in Bedfordshire do an amazing job but nothing compared with what we have now with the Alzheimer’s Groups.

“I understand there will be eight weeks for each Borough to provide what we have now. Dementia patients and their carers need continuity.

“What you are planning will not work. You have succeeded in making people like me very unhappy with your changes.”

Ayla Patton, Alzheimer’s Society Services Manager for Bedfordshire and Luton, said: “We are working closely with Central Bedfordshire Council to ensure that people with dementia and their carers are supported during this transition.

“There are 7000 people with dementia in Bedfordshire and it is vital that they are given the support they need to live well with the condition.

“We are keen to answer any questions people have directly, so please contact us in the local office on 01234 327 380. People can also contact Alzheimer’s Society’s National Dementia Helpline for advice or access peer support via our online forum ‘Talking Point’.”