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A responsive group of over 50 people from churches in the area appreciated a “Dementia Care Workshop” at St. Mary’s Church Hall, Marple Bridge, on Saturday 13th October. The day was organised by The Justice and Peace Group of Marple Churches Together.

Mark Perry, from The Dementia Training Unit at The Meadows Community Hospital, Offerton, gave an informative presentation of the nature and extent of dementia and the contribution and support that we can give. He was well supported by three colleagues from Educate, a group of dementia sufferers and their carers, who shared bravely and honestly what coping with dementia in everyday life entails.

The manager of Marple Dale Residential Care Home together with the dementia care worker, chaplain and a grateful relation of a former resident, spoke of the physical and spiritual care they offer in such a situation. They also highlighted the challenges to be met.

The Rev Dr Albert Jewell, a retired Methodist minister, drew on his wide experience of ministering to people with dementia. He serves on the executive of Christian Council of Ageing and was formerly Principal Chaplain and Spiritual Director of Methodist Homes for the Aged, who have a longstanding commitment to providing residential care for dementia sufferers. Albert emphasised the importance of seeing the person behind the condition of dementia and gave several examples of coping with this.

Helpful information stalls were available from The Altzheimers Society, Signposts (Stockport’s Carers Forum), Age UK Stockport, Educate and Christian Council on Ageing. There was a good level of participation from the members present, as their questions and contributions showed. The enjoyable fellowship made for a fulfilling day together.

It is anticipated that a training course for prospective pastoral carers will be held in the New Year. This would be led by Mark Perry and would enable us in the churches to be able to offer informed support to those who care for sufferers of dementia.

Graham Hawley

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