DCCount services are evidenced based and  delivered by a team of qualified professionals, including occupational therapists, a speech and language therapist and a clinical psychologist who have the experience and expertise to assess how best to respond to specific issues that individual carers raise.  Learning is deeply embedded by applying proven adult learning techniques. Services are developed with the guidance of our Carers Advisory Panel and they are independently evaluated.

The core services that we provide are intensive 3 day/2 night residential courses in Swindon and Birmingham. They explore:

* How the brain works and how different dementias affect the person
* How to support the person with the challenges they face
* Understanding your own personality and how this may impact on your responses
* Your preferences in problem solving and developing a range of possible solutions and your ability to adapt to different situations
* Looking after yourself
* Building resilience

So far, our courses have been attended by husbands, wives, partners, daughters, sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren aged 18-80 years. Here’s some of the feedback we have received:

 

“I now have a greater understanding of what my mum is experiencing. I now have the skills to help support her better. I now have the understanding of me and my personality to make the whole process positive for everyone.”

“Other than being massively above my expectations in content and how both mine and F's life will benefit from this course, I would like to thank the "team" with all my heart for going that extra mile with my own issues in addition to those of the other carers as a whole.”

 

As you can imagine, lots of tears are shed on the course; some from the shear relief of being amongst people who truly understand what they are going through, others from pain, sadness and grief for their situation. The team ensure that each carer is held and supported through their tears. Thankfully, laughter is also very much part of the whole experience – during ‘classroom’ sessions, mealtimes and during more relaxed times in the café and bar.

Our courses are all about building knowledge, confidence and resilience. We encourage participants to create their own support networks. Many have formed Facebook and WhatsApp groups where they can exchange ideas, references and words of encouragement to each other. One group has arranged a reunion back at the hotel and 14 of them are planning to attend.

Cost of the courses

As a charity we do not make a profit. We are fortunate to have reserves to invest in the development and start-up costs of our new services. It costs the charity £650 per carer to deliver the course and includes all food (which is plentiful, healthy and delicious), two nights’ accommodation and over 20 hours of ‘classroom’ time.

We don’t charge a fee for the courses but to make our services sustainable and reach as many carers as possible we ask carers to ‘pay it forward’ so that they offer a hand of support to the next carer. We invite each carer to pay what they can afford, either as a one-off or monthly payment. It’s difficult to put a price on learning that can be life changing but the we’re pleased to say that the warmth and welcome from the team and the energising and heart-warming comradery from the peer support comes free!

What else does DCCount do?

Participants of our courses have told us that once they have got the foundations in place from our courses they want more bespoke support from us so we’re also developing Individual Support Plans including:

A basic well-being plan
A specialized communication plan
A specialized occupational plan
A specialized psycho-social plan
A combination of all of the above

We will also be developing one-day workshops to enable family carers to hone in on information and skills based learning.

Our commitment to evidence based family carer support

We are passionate about evidence based services so we have teamed up with the Association of Dementia Studies at University of Worcester to create the DCCount Professor of Family Care in Dementia focusing exclusively on the experiences, needs and outcomes for dementia carers. We have made the appointment and soon we’ll be announcing the name of the post-holder.

Find out more about our charity and our services at dementiacarers.org.uk

Claire Goodchild, CEO, Dementia Carers Count