In 1994 a group of Carers of Dementia Patients who had met whilst visiting their loved ones in an NHS specially opened Dementia Care Home, known as Oakley House, decided to meet on a regular basis for coffee. This would be a meeting where they could actually socialize without the patient being with them. So was born a League of Friends who would give one another support and advice on how to cope with the difficult task of caring for someone suffering from any form of Dementia.

 

As time passed the Group decided that fund raising would be good so that they could make life easier for the patients when they were in Oakley House. At this time respite care was given at The House, giving Carers a little time to themselves.

 

Many events have been held over the years an Annual Brunch which was held in a Carerís garden which in 8 years raised over £12000. A Strawberry Tea in another garden which in 4 years raised over £5000. We held Cheese and Wine evenings, a Quiz and several Garden Fetes. A lot of work for people who are caring for someone with dementia, but the hard work is all worthwhile when you see what can be done with the money.

 

We have provided special beds to relieve the pressure sores caused by inactivity in bed, gifts for in-patients at Christmas, large TVís with cupboards under to hide the wiring, CD Players, kitchen equipment, furniture for the reminiscence room and special wheelchairs for those who needed support whilst sitting and also hoists to help them in and out of bed. Our largest purchase was a special bath which cost over £3000. Some of these items also help the staff who look after our loved ones.

 

Eventually Oakley House was closed to comply with a new outlook on Care in the Community and also for Health and Safety reasons. So what should we do with the money we were still raising?  We decided to keep the Carers Group going with regular monthly support meetings which are held in The Canford Magna Centre, Oakley Lane, Canford Magna.

 

It was also felt that educational courses would be helpful so now with the sponsorship of another charity we are able to run two 11 week courses a year. These courses are run in conjunction with Dorset NHS Foundation Trust. They provide the knowledge we provide the funds. It works quite well and on average we have 12 carers on each course, which covers many aspects of caring, including financial benefits, occupational therapy, legal aspects, Consultant psychiatrist and many more helpful advisers.

 

Many of those who attend the course then become members of our group which is now called Oakley Friends (to keep the original name contact). The membership, which can be made as a donation because we are a registered charity is only £10 a year and this helps with the running costs, which are very low as we are all volunteers running the Group.