When Pip Barker first began to be forgetful 13 years ago it was a frightening and confusing time for him and for his wife Maggie.

The former senior civil servant was aware that something was very wrong and the couple, who live just outside Trowbridge, sought help immediately.  Getting diagnosed with Alzheimer’s was straightforward in Pip’s case, but finding support and information about adjusting to life with dementia proved much more difficult.

Maggie said: "I didn’t know anything about dementia  and it was so difficult to know what to do for the best.  I popped into the Alzheimer’s Support office in Trowbridge and it was then that I met Jackie Ransome. It was wonderful talking to someone who understood. That was 12 years ago and Jackie has been to see me every month since."

Jackie, a care coordinator for the Wiltshire charity, arranged for a support worker to spend quality time with Pip, and introduced him to the charity’s day club.

Quality time

Today, Maggie still cares for Pip at home, and the couple use more of the charity’s services as his dementia deepens. They both sing at a weekly Music for the Mind group and were founder members of the Westbury Memory Café.  Each week Pip spends two full days at the Mill Street Club and has six hours of home support. It is quality time for him and a real break for Maggie.  

She said: "It really does allow me to carry on caring. The support workers are so good with Pip. He doesn’t talk much now and doesn’t usually want to go out but recently they have asked if he’d like to go out for coffee and he does, so it is opening his horizons again. He loves playing snooker at the club. It is keeping him sociable and his time there makes all the difference to me."