Bio – Belinda Dixon, Assistant Manager, Day Services, Optalis’ Boyn Grove Dementia Day Centre
Belinda originally trained as a general nurse, qualifying in 1983 and working in a mental health unit. It was during that time that her passion for working with dementia developed. After working for many years in an assessment day hospital, Belinda learned how important day services could be in helping people with dementia live well.
There are around 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, and according to Alzheimer’s Society the numbers are set to rise to 2 million by 2051. These figures show the real need for appropriate support in the community for those living with dementia, as well as their carers.
I have worked in dementia nursing for over 30 years and I genuinely believe that day centres are one of the most effective ways of improving the dementia journey. Providing ‘physio’ for the brain, supporting people to remain in their own homes and giving carers a much-needed day of respite. Day centres are a very effective way of delaying cognitive decline.
Boyn Grove is a dementia day centre in the heart of Maidenhead and is managed by Optalis, provider of care for Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead. It acts as a therapy centre for anybody on any stage of their dementia journey. We provide support for adults with a dementia diagnosis and the age range currently varies from 58-97. Therapies are tailored to the needs of those in the room and designed to exercise every area of the brain.
I’m a firm believer in the saying “If you don’t use it, you lose it” and the work we do at the centre helps to build confidence and self esteem and encourage customers to participate in activities and therapy. We provide the stepping stones to their memory and the work that dementia support services provide to people across the UK makes a huge difference to people’s lives.
We provide a range of activities that act as exercise and physio for the brain. It’s important that these are person centred and tailored to the individual, to encourage participation and retain interest. These activities include reminiscence, games, music, gardening and art, as well as trips and events.
Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) activities are provided twice a week and have proven to be popular and successful in treating the symptoms of dementia. CST is a programme of themed activities that are designed to improve mental ability and memory. It is a non-drug treatment recommended by the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence and can be just as beneficial.
Typically, we see around 15 people a day and they will spend the whole day with us.
All of our customers are living in their own home, and the service we provide supports independence, reducing the need for long term care. It also provides a much needed respite service for carers. Many of the families we regularly see have commented that they would not be able to cope without the support they get at the centre.
Community engagement is important to us for a variety of reasons. Our links, for example, with the library enable us to share resources. Our customers benefit from a library service and joint initiatives such as memory book clubs. These strong links also result in delivering a positive dementia message to our community, and we are often seen out and about, or being asked for more information on the service we provide.
Our day centre provides a second home to our customers. A place where they feel safe, respected and can relax around other people who are on the same journey as them. Without the valuable service that dementia day centres provide, there would be more individuals reliant on homecare or residential care, and this enables an independent life for as long as possible.