Building Community Resilience: Empowering Ethnic Minority Carers in Windsor and Maidenhead through Dementia Support Group
07 December 2023
Nighat Ellahi, Ethnic Minorities Development Worker, has been supporting carers from ethnic minority communities across the borough of Windsor and Maidenhead for over 16 years. Just over a year ago, she joined forces with the Optalis Dementia Care Advisors to meet a growing need in the area. Karun Passi, Dementia Care Advisor worked with Nighat to set up a support group for ethnic minority carers supporting family members living with dementia.
Karun and Nighat built upon their well-established links with the community, to get the project off the ground. Karun said “We did a lot of groundwork before our first session. I spent time at local places of worship, so that people could get to know me better.”
Now, the monthly session attracts as many as 25 people at a time. The group meet in comfortable surroundings at Maidenhead Library. Nighat reflected how the sessions have evolved “Initially we offered this session as respite for carers, and a chance for them to understand more about dementia and how it affects their loved one. However, we found that many family carers wanted to bring their relative living with dementia with them”. The group offers a safe, non-judgemental environment where people can be at ease and have a good time together. It also offers an important lifeline to many. One member shared how the respite the group sessions provide has helped her,
“I had headaches all the time, but now I feel fresh. It is such a huge relief.”
A stimulating environment
Karun said, “We offer activities that keep people’s bodies active, like armchair exercises, and activities that keep the mind active, like puzzles and games.”
One group member concurred
“My brain was asleep, but now it is awake.”
A carer who supports her mother to attend said
“My mum likes the company of others, but she has become more and more isolated. When she participates in the group activities, I see how much it lifts her mood. She looks forward to coming.”
A social space
The group provides an opportunity to socialise with old and new friends, share experiences and join in celebration.
A carer who attends said:
“This group provides an avenue for my mother to express herself. Once you reach a certain time in life, there are a lack of social opportunities.”
His mother added:
“This group is very good and friendly. We make friends and get together.”
Another group member said:
“This group has helped me so much. It gives me a reason to get out of the house.”
The support group is very important to people and the bonds that people form are lasting. One person, who lost her husband, continues to stay on as a volunteer and help others who face a similar journey with dementia.
Karun and Nighat have created a welcoming and vibrant community through the monthly sessions, providing a valuable social space that fosters strong connections and support. New members are always welcome. The group is free to attend and runs the first Wednesday morning of every month.
Our festive card competition
We invite the people we support to help design our festive card. The winning designs are printed on cards and sent to all of our team members to spread some festive cheer.