My mum, dementia and me

16 May 2024
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A smiling elderly woman wearing a summer hat sitting in a garden next to a middle aged smiling woman with brown hair


As part of Dementia Action Week, our Community Partnership Manager for the south Janet Duggan has shared her experience with dementia, both personally and professionally.


Dementia: a closer look

The Alzheimer's Society reveals a startling fact: dementia is the UK's leading cause of death. Over 944,000 individuals live with this condition, affecting 1 in 11 people over the age of 65.

It's more than forgetfulness; it's a spectrum of symptoms from various brain diseases, leading to memory loss, confusion, and altered behaviour, progressively intensifying over time.

My experience

My own dementia journey started when I was in my early forties when my mum was diagnosed with vascular dementia. At the time, I had three young children and I started to notice my mum being forgetful and not being able to engage with normal family activities.

As the disease progressed, she started to lose control of her body. She eventually needed 24-hour support in a care home, where she very sadly passed away eight years ago. I think the hardest part for me was when my mum started to forget who I was but would still be able to do all the times tables! Two weeks before she passed, she looked into my eyes and said, “you've got my eyes”, which gave me comfort to know she knew we had some kind of connection.

Empowering through partnerships

In my role, I'm privileged to collaborate with remarkable charities aiding those affected by dementia.

A notable achievement was partnering with Dementia Support (Sage House) in West Sussex. Our joint efforts will extend their reach with a new minibus, providing tailored energy workshops, CO safety awareness, CO alarm distribution and helping people living with dementia sign up to the Priority Services Register.

They'll also refer customers needing a locking cooker valve, a vital safety feature for those living with dementia at home that we install and fit free of any charge. Find out more and sign up here.

Training and team building

Our commitment extends to employee development, with 2,484 of our colleagues already Dementia Friends. This week, we're inviting SGN employees to become Dementia Friends and learn more about helpful ways we can support people living with dementia.

Our vulnerability team are also eagerly anticipating a Community Action Programme (CAP) day at Sage House in August, where we'll help to paint some of the rooms at Sage House. We’ll also have the opportunity to do some activities with the clients. It’s part of our commitment to give our people the opportunity to volunteer for charities or good causes close to their heart on company time. We’re given one day per year to get involved in volunteering activities to make a difference to our community.

The CAP day is a great opportunity for us to take some time out away from our normal roles. It’s a fantastic team building task and is also helping a local charity.

Expanding horizons

We've also started a partnership with Dementia Support Hampshire & IOW, who will soon start home visits across Hampshire, focusing on the Isle of Wight.

Our network now boasts 82 community partnerships, complemented by 43 grassroots collaborations through Centre for Sustainable Energy. Our amazing partners help us to deliver the important role of making sure our vulnerable customers, including those with dementia, get the support they need.