It is estimated that because of the older age profile of the Irish community there are around 10,000 Irish people with dementia in Britain. Most of this group are living in their own homes, cared for by family members who see themselves as spouses, children or siblings fulfilling their dutiful obligations rather than “carers”.
Irish carers, especially Irish Travellers, spend 50–100 hours a week in their caring roles and although they do this willingly, they struggle and often risk their own health and wellbeing in the process.
The Cuimhne (Irish word for memory) Campaign has been running since 2012 and has raised awareness of dementia, supported the development of culturally sensitive community services for Irish people and equipped volunteers and staff to address the needs of Irish people with dementia. The Cuimhne Carers Project, funded by the Department of Health and Social Care and Race Equality Foundation aims to help family carers with a demanding role for which there is little preparation or external support.
While there are many excellent sources of information to be found, they may be difficult to access by busy carers and largely take no account of the culture of Irish people. Rather than try to reinvent the wheel, we are blessed to be able to draw upon some of the excellent resources of Alzheimer Society of Ireland. The personal stories, different Irish accents, ways of speaking and humour are likely to be familiar and comforting to anxious carers.
We have collected together a number of their short videos HERE.
Find advice and resources about finding an outside carer HERE.
Mary Tilki looks at the question, is there something different about Irish people with dementia?
WHAT DOES THE CUIMHNE CARERS PROJECT DO?
The Cuimhne Carers Project aims to provide information about dementia, especially how it is experienced by the person concerned. It will provide resources that carers can use to stimulate or calm their loved one, for reminiscence purposes or to provide enjoyment tailored as much as possible to the needs of Irish people. The project provides a series of webinars aimed at equipping carers with practical and communication skills, ways of avoiding behavioural problems, diffusing and dealing with anger and minimising distress.
The series includes information, support and strategies for self–care to protect the physical and mental health of the carer. Expert webinars on a range of topics encourage carer families to have difficult conversations as early as possible and provide information and advice about planning for the future. The webinars have been recorded and made accessible to carers who are not able to participate in live events.
Although expert advice and information is provided, the Cuimhne Carers Project is about learning what works from each other – carers and people with dementia.
The website also provides information and resources about Irish organisations providing dementia or relevant services at local level. It will also provide information about mainstream specialist services or resources such as Dementia UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Carers UK, Age UK.