A NEW centre providing crucial care and help for dementia sufferers and their carers has been opened by the Alzheimer’s Society in Northallerton.

Bluebell House, at the Omega Business Centre, can work with 12 dementia sufferers a day, offering therapy, support and stimulation and giving carers much needed time off and respite.

The centre was opened today by Hambleton and Richmondshire Alzheimers Society to mark the start of Dementia Awareness Week. Richmond MP William Hague will officially open the new centre on Saturday, May 24.

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More than 1,750 people in the area live with dementia, while across the country about one in three older people will suffer from the disease, so every family will have a direct link or know someone who suffers from it.

Pam Crawford, services manager, said: "This is such a valuable place. We can give people who are suffering from dementia stimulation, therapy, entertainment and help them relax.

"It is hugely important that people are stimulated, we do things like singing for the brain and work closely with clients. We have a staff ratio of one to four and we really try to encourage people to get involved. The new premises is a major boost, it’s light and airy with a small garden.

“And of course for carers it is crucial that they get help and support too, and time off. It is really important that they don’t feel isolated., and that they know there is someone there for them.”

Pauline Wilson, from Scruton, whose husband, John, 73, suffers from dementia said the centre provides a crucial service. Her husband was diagnosed seven years ago.

She said: “It really is hugely important for clients and families. There is always somebody here to help and to talk too. Our family has really benefitted. The new centre is lovely, it’s nice for the clients and the staff.

“Sometimes you just despair, but there are always others around to offer help and support, you really need it. You can see for example when people are doing singing for the brain there is real recognition, many people won’t be looking at the words, they just remember them.”

The theme of Dementia Awareness Week is “Don’t bottle it up”.

The Alzhemier’s Society says it is vital that people of all ages who have concerns about dementia contact them to ensure they get information and support.

Hambleton and Richmondshire Alzheimer’s Society has five day support centres across the area. The National Dementia Helpline number is 0300-222-1122 or visit alzheimers.org.uk