A new cafe for people with dementia will start at the new Moorfield Hotel in Brae this month and and dementia information will be available at the well-established cafe operating at the Walls Church.
Both are part of the increasing support for people with dementia in Shetland and are possible thanks to a recent new appointment.
Laura Whittall has taken up work as community activities organiser for Alzheimer Scotland in Shetland, a job which will take her to various locations around the isles. Activities in the South Mainland are also planned.
The news comes as Shetland Islands Council and NHS Shetland announced a review of dementia services will be carried out this month to help improve services in the isles.
Mrs Whittall, whose job is funded through the Reshaping Care For Older People Change Fund, said it was all about encouraging people to participate in community activities to enable them to live in the community for as long as possible.
Mrs Whittall’s career to date has been in nursing. She was latterly ward sister on Ronas Ward in the Gilbert Bain Hospital, and said her job is to build on existing initiatives and develop new ones.
“There are already an number of collaborations with Shetland Arts and Shetland Museum and Archives. My appointment will be to consolidate these and for new opportunities to be developed.
“I will be working at the cafe which will operate from the new Moorfield Hotel, which has good access and is near the care centre, once per month on the second Monday of the month, and in partnership with the cafe in the church at Walls to offer once per month information on dementia and opportunities for reminiscence sessions.”
Mrs Whittall will also be working with the well established dementia cafe in the Baptist Church at Quoys, Lerwick, which attracts more than 40 people. She said: “An opportunity to dance will take place starting at the end of November at this cafe.”
Another activity for older people she is involved in is bowling at the Clickimin Leisure Complex.
Plans are already in place for a once per month cafe in Levenwick to serve the South Mainland. Mrs Whittall said: “This will take place on a Friday and an opportunity is there to discuss ‘what’s in the paper?'”
Her next venture is to go to Mareel to meet Shetland Arts about funding support for a musical memory session in the winter with Alice Mullay and Andy Ross.
Meanwhile a review of dementia services provided by Shetland Islands Council and NHS Shetland has been commissioned.
June Andrews, a dementia expert based at the University of Stirling, will be leading the review, which will start this month.
Prof Andrews is a recognised leader in the worldwide movement to improve services for people with dementia and their carers. She will be assisted by Mark Butler who is a leader in public service improvement.
Simon Bokor-Ingram, director of clinical services and interim director of community care, said ti was important to review services so as much care as possible could be given in Shetland.
“We now have an opportunity to look more closely at the amount of care we can and should be providing locally, and this has been the catalyst for the review.”
The outcome should be used by the SIC and NHS Shetland to improve and integrate dementia services.
Shetland MSP Tavish Scott welcomed the review.
“Many people across Shetland have been in touch with me over the quality of dementia services. There are real concerns that the service just has not been adequate. So the Council and the Health Board’s review is important in producing recommendations on strengthening this important service within Shetland. I also want it to look at how more local people can be supported in Shetland and not sent south for treatment where that care can be properly provided and resourced in Shetland.”