Dr David Crichton’s blog: Free help is at hand for people with dementia

This is a transcript of my My View column that was published in the Doncaster Star on Monday 19 September, 2016

It’s World Alzheimer’s Day on Wednesday this week (21 Sept) and a timely to moment to reflect that living with dementia, or caring for someone who has dementia , can present many challenges and require a lot of planning for the future.

People often don’t know where to go to find the information they need, which is why I’ve got some good news to share about a free new legal service that launches next month in Doncaster to provide welcome help. It will provide useful advice about the many complex issues that can arise when caring for someone with dementia, including home disputes and powers of attorney.

The Doncaster Dementia Law Clinic has been set up in partnership with the University of Manchester and adult care charity Making Space as part of Doncaster’s commitment to helping people live well with dementia and plan for the future. Local NHS organisations are involved plus charities Age UK Doncaster, Alzheimer’s Society and Sue Ryder.

One-to-one consultations will be available with Manchester based legal experts via Skype either from a person’s home locally or from one of three specially created ‘hotspots’ at care centres in the Borough at Sandalwood Day Centre, Wheatley Hills; Moat Hills Day Centre, Bentley; and Crimpsall Day Centre, Hexthorpe.

When someone attends a one-to-one consultation at the Doncaster Dementia Law Clinic, students and a supervising lawyer or barrister will discuss their case with them, clarifying the facts and the legal issues. A letter of advice will then be sent within two weeks.

As well as offering free legal advice, the law clinic will provide the additional benefits of providing emotional support and guidance to increase wellbeing.  It will help people plan for the future and alleviate worries, enabling them to enjoy life to the full. The legal issues the Dementia Law Clinic can advise on, also include: continuing healthcare; court of protection; disputes of mental capacity; trust, inheritance and probate and much more.

This video explains how it works: ihttps://www.law.manchester.ac.uk/connect/making-a-difference/engaging-our-communities/

People will be signposted to the service by the Doncaster Admiral Service, which provides support for people and families through their dementia ‘journey’, with referrals also coming from other professionals and direct from families.

The service launches on 3 October 2016 but please note that all appointments must be pre-booked by ringing 0161 275 7976 or emailing free.legal@manchester.ac.uk. There won’t be any drop-in support at the day centre ‘hotspots’.

Currently there are over 3,500 Doncaster people who have been diagnosed with dementia and we expect for a Borough our size that a further 1,000 people are living with dementia  but have not yet been given a diagnosis. This is an excellent example of how technology can make vital advice more easily accessible and will make a real difference to Doncaster families who currently don’t know where to turn.

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