The new dementia counsellors for the region agree they have "big shoes to fill" as they provide support to help keep people living with dementia at home and their carers functioning.
Kath Readford is set to retire after 28 years in the role, and registered nurses Anne Gemmell and Jeanie Cronk are the new faces of the Dementia Counselling Service.
It is free, based at Dubbo and covers 10 local government areas within Western NSW Local Health District.
"I feel very privileged to be stepping into Kath's shoes, although they're very big shoes to fill," Mrs Gemmell said.
I feel very privileged to be stepping into Kath's shoes, although they're very big shoes to fill.Incoming dementia counsellor Anne Gemmell
"She has built an amazing job with dementia and I hope that Jeanie and I can take on the reins and we want to support the community just as well as she has, and I'm really looking forward to that challenge.
"I just want the community to know that we're here, we're still here...very excited to be taking on the role."
The service provides counselling, advice about referrals and support for carers and their families of people with dementia who are living in the community.
Mrs Gemmell says COVID restrictions are a struggle for carers and their families.
"We're here to support with ongoing phone calls... that's part of our counselling role and we want people to reach out to us," she said.
On hold at the moment are the monthly carer meetings, "bringing like-minded people together to support each other", and the friendship group held at Western Plains Cultural Centre.
"Those things are really important, and we want to continue that when lockdown is over, we will get straight back into action and continue on supporting everyone we can," Mrs Gemmell said.
Mrs Cronk encouraged anyone seeking support to contact them on 6881 3704.
"Just a phone call, reach out, and anyone can refer, it doesn't have to be a specialist physician or it doesn't have to be a GP, or it doesn't have to be a registered nurse - any family member can refer," Mrs Cronk said.
Home Club is a day centre for those living at home with dementia in the western region.
It is run by Catholic Community Services and is located at 2 Tony McGrane Place at Dubbo, and Mrs Cronk highlighted its value.
"The other thing I've [learnt] is that starting early with people with dementia and giving them a purpose, coming to Home Club each day, or a couple days a week, that socialisation, interaction with other people and activities that are organised here is actually keeping them at home longer, and that's the whole idea, to support carers to keep their loved ones," she said.
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