West Sussex-based care organisations joined forces this summer to host a relaxing weekend break for people with dementia and their carers.

The event was organised by carers charity TuVida with support from Carers Support West Sussex, St Catherine’s Hospice and Carers Health Team.

Throughout the weekend of 24-25 July 2021, local people who have received a diagnosis of early-onset dementia, as well as their family or friend carers, were able to take part in a mini-holiday including plenty of rest and entertainment.

The event, held at Roffey Park, also offered carers the chance to take time out to themselves from their caring role, with TuVida stepping in to provide support where needed.

Seven couples headed along to the event, which usually takes place twice annually but was unable to go ahead during 2020.

The weekend included subsidised en-suite accommodation for all attendees, plus plenty of activities such as art, dancing and gentle sports, talks from the charities, support sessions including one from Alzheimer’s Society, entertainment, and therapy treatments such as massages.

Esther Graham, South Regional Manager at TuVida, said: “After a year off, we were delighted to be able to host this year’s Dementia-Friendly Short Break Service, following robust safety processes.

“Events like this can provide people requiring care, as well as their main caregivers, with a fantastic opportunity to socialise, meet other carers, and recharge their batteries, in a very relaxed environment.

“We know that during the pandemic many people have been shielding, so it was a fantastic experience for them, as well as our staff, to be able to provide an opportunity to socialise and relax in a safe environment.

“It was a really joyful weekend and we’re already looking forward to our next event.”

Sonia Mangan, Chief Executive at Carers Support West Sussex, went on to say:

“This break for carers is just what is needed at a time when carers are experiencing feelings of isolation and loneliness. The weekend offers a chance to mingle with others in similar situations while having a rest from their caring role. Respite is invaluable in looking after one’s mental health.”

Linda Short, who attended the event with her partner George, said:

“There is always a little anxiety when you prepare to spend a weekend away with a crowd of total strangers… We met, and were cared for, by such wonderful people and shared experiences in the knowledge that we’re not alone in this journey.

“We all came away relaxed, well fed, pampered and determined to apply for a place on the next Carers’ Weekend.”

As well as organising events for carers and people requiring care, TuVida also provides care at home as well as in day centres. It has nearly 700 employees across the country and is currently recruiting for more colleagues to join its team in West Sussex.

To find out more, visit www.tuvida.org/westsussex.