Alzheimer’s sufferers and families distraught at cut to lifeline services

Sandra Falkner with her husband Bill who has Alzheimer's Disease.
Sandra Falkner with her husband Bill who has Alzheimer's Disease.
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ALZHEIMER’S disease sufferers and their families have been left devastated by plans to cut a vital lifeline.

The Alzheimer’s Society in Sunderland is facing a raft of spending reductions which will see the work it does severely reduced.

Families attend activities run by the society during the week, such as memory cafes and lunch clubs, but soon decisions will have to be made about which ones will be stopped.

This is because the support worker at the centre that runs all the activities has had her hours reduced.

Sandra Falkner, of Barnes, whose husband Billy, 64, has Alzheimer’s, said: “My husband is being let down by this decision.

“The events they run are all we have. It’s the only thing we can get to. The lady that runs it is getting her hours cut, so now she is not going to be able to do it.

“Lots of us attend the cafe and it’s a great set-up for us. For most people it’s all they have as they don’t have anyone else to help or support them.

“There used to be two people that ran the centre, then one retired and since then one lady has been doing everything.”

“She runs the cafe, she organises lunch clubs and a craft club and even visits people in hospital.”

The centre is also facing the loss of its cook and gardener as well as three home support service workers that go out and spend time with people in the community.

Sandra, 64, whose husband developed the condition nine years ago, invited the Echo to a meeting where other members expressed their dismay at the decision to reduce services.

She said: “Sunderland is one of the worst-funded areas in the country and it feels like no-one tells you anything. We have to fight for everything.

“It has been such a help to me as it’s a place where people listen and they have become real friends to me. It’s been a real release.

“It’s very stressful taking Billy out, but when he comes here, he is happy and smiles because he has got used to it. It is an absolute lifeline to us.”

Caroline Burden, North East area manger for Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Alzheimer’s Society is the leading care and support charity for people affected by dementia.

“We rely on funding from local authorities and the primary care trust to fund our vital support services for people with dementia and their carers.

“Due to a significant reduction in funding, Alzheimer’s Society has had to reduce the hours of some staff.

“However we are keen to ensure that we continue to provide the highest possible standard of service provision for people affected by dementia in Sunderland and will continue to seek additional funding.”

Twitter: @tomwhite7