Dementia carers set to go it alone after Sunderland day centre is axed

Users of a Sunderland dementia centre say they won't be beaten despite plans to axe their unit.

Thursday, 28th February 2019, 12:32 pm
Updated Thursday, 28th February 2019, 14:47 pm
Sandra Falkner with her late husband, Billy, who she cared for during his 13-year battle with Alzheimer's Disease.

Members of a lifeline daycare unit were left devastated by the announcement earlier this year that it will close.

The Alzheimer’s Society announced it will be shutting its centre in the city’s Hylton Road this summer, blaming the move on funding shortages.

But, supporters of the centre say they will not be beaten and plan to set up a charity of their own, which will be called North East Dementia Care, to provide the much-needed services to thousands of people in the city who are affected by the disease, and their families.

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Sandra Falkner, who has been a member of the centre for more than ten years, said she and other users originally planned to fight the closure.

However, the 70-year-old said it is clear The Alzheimer's Society will not change its mind - so setting up their own charity it the way forward even though it will be a lot of hard work.

On Saturday, March 2, anyone interested in supporting or getting involved with the new venture is invited to go along to the first meeting at Ewesley Road Methodist Church at 10am.

Sandra said: "We are going it alone and setting up our own charity.

"We have had loads of support so far and we believe we can do this. The thousands of people in the city who have dementia or will get it need somewhere to go."

Sandra said former and current centre users and their families are on board, as well as a number of health care professionals and businesses who are giving their support.

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

She said the Hylton Road unit became a lifeline for her and Billy, who sadly lost his battle with the disease four years ago at the age of 67.

Now, Sandra, who remained a regular user of the centre where she supported others going through similar battles, said she will be doing everything she can to make sure there is provision on Wearside for sufferers.

She said: "Sunderland City Council has been brilliant with us and are going to be showing us a few buildings for potential new premises and we will hopefully be able to start fundraising soon."

Sandra, and all the others involved in setting up the new charity, are urging the people of the city to get behind them and support them with any sort of fundraising activities.

She said of the current unit: "This is the only day care facility for people with Alzheimer’s in Sunderland and it covers a massive area.

"People can be picked up on a morning, go to the centre where they are cared for, the staff are all really lovely, and do activities and then go home on an afternoon.

"Those few hours break are vital for the carers, it is a lifeline."

She said the current team of staff is very experienced and much-loved and it is hoped once up and running they will be able to be employed at the new dementia centre.

Anyone interested in finding out more is welcome to go along to the meeting.