A Newton Aycliffe grandmother who has benefitted from County Durham and Darlington Fire and Rescue Service’s (CDDFRS) new programme of Safe and Wellbeing visits is keen to spread the word to others who may be helped.
Bess Robertson cares for her husband Jimmy who has been living with dementia for the past six years.
But life had become tough for Bess…
“I had become very depressed, I had days where I would cry and be very upset and felt that I couldn’t cope,” she says.
“Since the referral to the Alzheimer’s Society through the fire service I’ve been so much better. My life has been changed by the service provided.”
Bess first met firefighters at an event at Darlington Community Fire Station and subsequently spoke to CDDFRS community safety officer Mark Henderson about help available through fire service Safe and Wellbeing visits.
Mark said: “Darlington Red Watch directed Bess to the community safety team and Barry Bird visited Bess and Jimmy at their home a few weeks ago.
“Barry provided advice about keeping safe including information about the dangers of overloading sockets and he also recommended a referral to the Alzheimer’s Society so that they could benefit from expert help with regard to dementia.
“The partnership between the Service and the Alzheimer’s Society has been working extremely well since the new visits began in February helping individuals and families stay safe and improve their quality of life.
“Seeing how valuable the referrals have been to Bess and Jimmy reminds us all just how important this collaborative work is.”
Since the fire service referral to the Alzheimer’s Society, dementia advisor Hannah Johnson has been working with Bess and Jimmy to organise day care each week with Durham County Carers; free counselling sessions and contact with a mental health group.
Bess added: “The day care is such a help to me as I can plan to do things each week and know that Jimmy will be ok without me.
“I’ve also found the counselling sessions with Relate have been really beneficial. At first I didn’t think I needed them but being able to talk about things that were worrying me and realising that I hadn’t really accepted Jimmy’s dementia and how it was affecting me has helped a lot.
“I can’t praise the help that I’ve had through the fire service and the Alzheimer’s Society enough. I just want to let other people, who may be in the situation that I was in, know that there is help out there and it can make life so much easier.”
• Pictured (above, from left): Jimmy and Bess Robertson (front) with Barry Bird, Mark Henderson, Hannah Johnson and Andrew Ball.