Dream Support Group celebrating with group facilitators Joan McDonald and Mary Hickey
DREAM, a peer support group for people living in the early stages of dementia has celebrated its third birthday in Kilkenny.
It achieved national media attention recently when two if its members featured on a television advert for Understand Together, a campaign to raise awareness of dementia in Ireland.
The DREAM place, located in the city at St Patrick’s parish Centre, Loughboy is somewhere people can go following diagnosis of memory and thinking problems, meet others in this situation, discuss their fears and worries, get support and information.
It encourages social interactions, meeting new friends, be out in the community and feel part of a group.
Members can freely discuss their concerns, with the offer of advice to help overcome struggles that life now presents.
“Our aim is to help people live well with dementia through staying connected and involved in life,” one of the coordinators, Joan Mc Donald said.
In the past three years, members have taken part in research focus groups, where researchers including Professor Eamon O’Shea seek to explore the lived experience of dementia to try to plan supports and services that dementia sufferers themselves would like.
“Members are at the centre of developments in Ireland as part of the Irish Dementia Working Group working at a national level in conjunction with the Alzheimer's Society of Ireland preparing submissions to government,” Joan said.
This year, the group were treated to the Azure tour at the Butler Gallery in Kilkenny Castle with Bairbre Ann Harkin and look forward to another visit in 2018.
The group have enjoyed trips to The National Stud and Japanese Gardens, Johnstown Castle and Agricultural Museum, The Dunbrody Famine Ship and Woodstock Gardens.
DREAM is a registered charity and is facilitated by volunteers.
Funds have been raised by Supervalu Loughboy bag pack, raffles, marathons and walks by individuals and Kilkenny based financial institution, State Street.
Recently, two members made TV adverts as part of the Understand Together campaign to raise awareness of dementia in Ireland.
Understand Together aims to increase awareness of dementia and reduce the stigma associated with it.
It seeks to encourage people to stay in contact and connected to people living with dementia within their communities.
The Understand Together website offers county by county services and supports education options for families and businesses and much more.
DREAM is held in St Patrick’s Parish Centre, Loughboy on the first and second Friday of every month from 11am to 1pm and is free. For Information Call 0879042967.