A Coleraine man who has witnessed the impact of dementia in Northern Ireland at first hand is marking ten years with the Alzheimer’s Society.
Adrian Friel originally trained as a chef but had a career break to allow him to care for his mother and grandmother before they both passed away.
While he was a carer he undertook a health and social care degree with the Open University, Adrian explains how during his studies he was drawn to learning about dementia and that set him on the path to work with the Alzheimer’s Society.
Adrian (49) said: “As part of my degree I studied mental health and there was a section on dementia. I found that this was one of the most interesting sections in the degree, which inspired me want to work in this field. A post came up in the Causeway area for a year as an outreach worker. I was successful in my interview and I began my career with Alzheimer’s Society.”
In his present post as services manager he is ideally placed to see the extent of the condition throughout Northern Ireland. He explained: “I am rarely in the same place two days in a row, and no two days are the same. I have a team of staff who provide front line services ranging from dementia support, activity groups, to side by side services.
“I am responsible for ensuring services we offer meet with service specification and are within budget. I also am involved in contract meetings with the commissioner and to try and see what other services we may be able to offer for people affected by dementia.
“Over my 10 years with Alzheimer’s Society I have seen massive improvements in what we can offer to people affected by dementia, but the biggest change is the way the person with the condition now have a voice. I believe we are in a much stronger position now to help those affected.”
One in three people over 65 will develop dementia and there are currently 20,000 people with dementia in Northern Ireland
Alzheimer’s Society provides a National Dementia Helpline, the number is 0300 222 11 22 or visit alzheimers.org.uk