Sunderland centre will give new lease of life to dementia sufferers and their families in Sunderland

The open day of the new dementia unit for Sunderland.
The open day of the new dementia unit for Sunderland.

A new centre is set to open in the city to provide much-needed services to dementia sufferers and their families in Sunderland.

Thanks to a dedicated group of campaigners, the new North East Dementia Care group will open on July 1.

Sandra Falkner at the new premises in Roker.

Sandra Falkner at the new premises in Roker.

The members held a successful open day at the new premises, based in the retirement centre, Springtide Cove in Roker, and were delighted with the response, with many saying they couldn't wait for services to start.

Users of the Alzheimer's Society day unit in the city were left devastated when it was announced in February that it would shut this summer.

However, Sandra Falkner led the campaign to save the much-needed services and with a lot of help launched North East Dementia Care.

Sandra, 70, first became involved with the centre when her late husband, Billy, was diagnosed with Alzheimer's in his early 50s.

He sadly lost his battle with the disease four years ago at the age of 67, but Sandra, who remained a regular user and said it was a lifeline to too many people to allow the services to disappear in the city.

She said a number of the staff from the Alzheimer's Society will be working at the new unit and they have secured a great manager in Karen Wilkinson.

Sandra said: "We will have a great team of fully qualified staff, so people can be confident their loved ones are being well cared for.

"We are all ready to get going now and families have been telling us they are very keen for us to get started."

As well as giving carers a much-needed time of respite, the main aims of the centre will be to give dementia sufferers the right level of stimulation and activities they need and there is also a beautiful garden area.

Every day the charity will provide a collection and drop off for patients, there will be games, cooked lunches, singing for the brain, dancing and much more.

Sandra said they are now taking bookings for people to use the day care facilities and although the charity needs to charge £60 a day to cover costs, people should contact social services at Sunderland City Council to discuss getting their places funded.

She said: "I just knew I had to do something, too many people rely on the facilities. The thousands of people in the city who have dementia, or will get it, need somewhere to go."

Campaigners have been doing a lot of fund-raising and it is hoped that once more funding comes through they will be able to look for some dedicated premises of their own.

Anyone interested in finding out more or booking a place can contact the charity on 07703 299274. People can also visit the group's Facebook page, North East Dementia Care - Sunderland Branch.