KATRINA Walker is one of only a handful of people in the country to be sponsored in her job as a dementia support worker through a special funding scheme by supermarket giant Tesco.
The 22-year-old recently joined the national Alzheimer’s Society charity, and is being funded for three years through the Tesco Charity of the Year partnership.
This aims to help 10,000 isolated families all over the country who are dealing with dementia to get specialist care and advice.
Based in Retford, Katrina is already making plans to begin new initiatives in the area.
“I was working in Nottingham until the beginning of October and we had several successful schemes running there that I would like to introduce here,” she said.
On 11th January next year she will launch a dementia ‘cafe’ at Hallcroft Community Centre in Retford, which will run on the second Wednesday of every month.
She said: “It will be like a drop-in session for people with dementia and their carers to come in and have a chat and get help and advice.”
“We can give them information on what support is available and be there to listen to their problems and concerns.”
“We’ll also be inviting in professional speakers like counsellors, people from health and social care, and from other charities like the WRVS and Age UK.”
“We will also be serving tea and coffee, biscuits and cake.”
Dementia support workers like Katrina provide a life-changing service to people with the illness, their carers and their families, helping them to maintain their independence, improve their sense of well-being and take control of their lives.
Katrina gained her degree in allied health services from Derby University and is now back living at home with her parents in Harworth, near Worksop.
She trained as an occupational therapist and worked as a carer in Tickhill, near Doncaster, before beginning her work with the Alzheimer’s Society. She has a family member with dementia so had first hand experience of the condition.
Katrina is passionate about wanting to ensure everyone can get the help and support they need, especially those who have just received a diagnosis and who are living alone.
Based at Bassetlaw Action Centre on Canal Street, she can be contacted there for advice and information.
She said: “People can come into the office and have a one-to-one meeting. I can supply information packs and arrange home visits.”
Katrina is also hoping to recruit some more volunteers to help with the work she wants to do.
“I’m excited by the challenge. I want to use all the skills and knowledge that I learnt at university and bring them to the community here.”
Dementia is not something just affecting older people either. Katrina said there are thousands of people of working age in the UK suffering from it.
“We can help with advice on what to do about carrying on working and driving. Not being able to drive is a big issue for a lot of people.”
l Katrina can be contacted on 01777 704994.