Dr Nick Tupper’s blog: Eileen’s work major boost to community

nicktupperNew figures shows more than 2,550 Doncaster people are diagnosed with dementia and we think a further 960 have the disease but haven’t yet been diagnosed.

It’s a huge issue for the NHS and Doncaster Council to manage and, as people live longer, it’s one that will continue to grow.

Public services have a huge task, but we can only do so much, which is why it’s important the whole community lends a hand.

In Doncaster we are fortunate in building a lot of community-based care to support services provided by the local NHS and Doncaster Council.

The Doncaster Dementia Action Alliance is bringing together businesses and voluntary organisations to help make the borough dementia-friendly.

A charity founded by a Doncaster woman who late husband had dementia is also doing sterling work.

Eileen Harrington started DonMentia two years ago to help Doncaster people who have dementia and their carers.

Eileen’s husband, also called Don, died with dementia in 2008 after having the disease for nine years. Eileen has spent the last two years tirelessly fundraising around £25,000 for DonMentia and many have benefited from her selfless approach.

Last week Eileen arranged for Dennis and Heather Garrick to celebrate their 80th birthdays with an afternoon tea treat at Arksey’s Village Teapot cafe. She contacted the Co-Op in Doncaster, who provided a chauffeur-driven limousine from the couple’s Armthorpe home.

Heather, who has severe dementia, has been married for 60 years to Dennis. They attend the DonMentia forum Eileen runs at Tickhill Road Hospital, where she provides advice and support. Earlier this year, she arranged for five therapists to come to a session and provide tereatments, including hand, neck, back and shoulder massages.

Also last week, Eileen organised a bus trip to North Anston’s Tropical Butterfly House for people with dementia and their carers, giving them an organised break.

On Wednesday, the High Sheriff of South Yorkshire will open the newly completed Community Dementia Garden at Tickhill Road Hospital. Eileen has generously paid for all the garden furniture from DonMenetia funds.

In the last few months Eileen has been organising and attending events to keep money rolling in to pay for activities she’s funds, including running a stall at Doncaster’s classic car and bike show and staging her annual summer garden party at her home.

People like Eileen are salt-of-the-earth community activists and we should never underestimate the valuable contribution they make towards making life easier for some of society’s most vulnerable people.

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