December 2023 | Connect

December 2023 – Connect Rima
Kia ora and welcome to our final pānui of 2023

As the year ends and I take a moment to reflect, it has been a year of new beginnings.

With the impact of Covid behind us we worked with our main funder, Te Whatu Ora, to develop a new contract for our services that reflects best practice and is future focused. We have a way to go to fully realise all aspects of our new service model, but the blueprint is good, and the direction is sound.

We welcomed new staff and farewelled others, and we even got some national media attention! Read on, more details are included in this pānui. December is also a time for family and friends to come together; this year we again launch our Remember December campaign, and we highlight some tips on how to have a good holiday period for all the whānau including the special person with mate wareware/dementia.

Thank you for your support this year. I wish you all a very Meri Kirihimete and a happy summer holiday.

Ngā mihi mahana

Anne Schumacher, Chief Executive

Thank You’s and Holiday Break Information

If you are reading this, that means you probably know firsthand the dedication and commitment that each of the Dementia Wellington team gives to their job. I am immensely proud to be leading this hard working and supportive team of fabulous people!

I would also like to acknowledge and thank our Board of Trustees who volunteer many hours of their time providing expert governance and strategic leadership of Dementia Wellington.

Finally, and by no means the least, a big thank you to all our volunteers who support the Cog cafes and social activities that so many of our clients enjoy – a very sincere thank you to every one of you.

Christmas/New Year closing and opening hours

  • Office closed from Thursday, 21 December (midday)
  • Office re opens from Monday, 8 January

During this period, we will not be responding to emails, calls or referrals.

As always, if you need any support during the break, please contact your GP for advice, or if it is an emergency ring 111.

Remember December – Supporting Someone with

Christmas means many things to many people — from food, family and festivities to religious observance and quiet reflection. But for people affected by dementia it can be more difficult. Here are 8 ways you can support people with dementia at Christmas.

There is always so much to consider at Christmas, and that’s especially true for people supporting somebody with dementia. We have adapted these tips from Alzheimer’s Society UK blog, see here for the full article.

1. Put decorations up gradually
Introduce the Christmas environment slowly. Think about putting decorations up gradually over a few days so it doesn’t come as a big change to the person’s usual setting.

2. Keep it simple and familiar
Someone with dementia may feel overwhelmed over the Christmas period, so it’s best not to overdo it. Keeping the day’s activities low-key will help your loved one to relax. If they usually go to church around this time but are unable to, consider online or televised services. Sticking to a familiar routine is also a good idea where possible. Having meals at regular times and in familiar surroundings will help to limit any potential confusion.

3. Get everyone involved
There are many ways to involve people living with dementia at Christmas time – from something as simple as hanging a bauble on the tree to doing a spot of Christmas shopping. Playing Christmas music and singing favourite carols can be a simple way to involve the person in the festivities. The important thing is that they feel included.

4. Create a quiet area
A large number of guests can be overwhelming, so ask family and friends to spread out their visits over the festive period. If things do get busy, designate one room or space in the home a ‘quiet area’ where your loved one can relax without loud noise. For some people, listening to music on headphones can be a good way to block out the noise.

5. Bring back old memories
Whether it’s an old song they used to enjoy or a classic Christmas film, find something you can take part in that is important to the person. Making a family photo album or memory box could be a nice way to spend time together. Just be careful about people or events the person may not wish to reminisce about.

6. Be mindful of food
Although many people eat a lot at Christmas, a full plate can be daunting for someone who has difficulties eating. If you’re doing the serving, try not to overload your loved one’s plate.

7. Be flexible
It’s easy to get caught up in Christmas traditions and how things have always been done in the family, but your festive season might begin to look different as dementia progresses. It’s always worth having a plan B and be prepared to change your plans if a particular element isn’t working.

8. Plan ahead
If the person with dementia is living in a care home, it can be helpful to ask the home in advance what their plans are for Christmas Day.

Subscribe and Win

If you subscribe to the national Dementia NZ News email list and you could be the lucky winner of a sensational Farro Fresh Foods Summer Hamper (but don’t worry, you will continue to get this newsletter as usual with our local news and events for Dementia Wellington).

Follow this link if you would like to get the national newsletter

Thank You to our Supporters

In September we marked World Alzheimers Month, which is also our annual appeal month. Thank you for your donations, the money we raise goes to support people with mate wareware/dementia to live their best lives possible. Every donation counts and every donation makes a difference. Thank you.

During the month of September, we hosted the weekly quiz at the Sprig and Fern tavern in Petone. Thank you to those who made up a team and participated, it was a fun night out and was a wonderful opportunity to raise awareness about dementia and Dementia Wellington’s services. Over the month we raised $2,200.

Edwin Chan (second from left), our Dementia Wellington Trustee with his quiz team in September.

Bake Sale!

We are also incredibly grateful to Wendy Adams who hosted a bake sale at her work and raised $195.

We think this is a great idea and encourage others to give it a go!

Thank you, Wendy

Pippa Beams – Christmas Lights Bonanza!

After a wildly successful open home last Christmas (that featured on TV news) Pippa is doing it all over again and this time, due to its success, Pippa has hired a hall to decorate her Christmas Trees in!!

Entry is by koha and all proceeds go to Dementia Wellington so please do pop along and see for yourself Pippa’s festive creativity.


  • Friday 15 December 5-9pm
  • Sat 16 December 10-5pm
  • Sun 17 December 10-5pm
  • Mon 18 December 1-9pm
  • Tues 19 December 1-9pm

Pinehaven Community Hall,
5a Forest Road, Pinehaven, Upper Hutt.

Thank You and Farewell

In September, our Board Chairperson Debra Lawson stepped down as a Trustee after three and a half years on the Board and as Chair for over two years. Debra played a key leadership role in navigating Dementia Wellington’s recovery and sustainability after the Covid period. We very much appreciate the considerable time and contribution Debra made to Dementia Wellington.

Our new Chair is Anna Shires, who has been on our Board since June 2018. We will introduce Anna in more detail in our next pānui.

We were also sorry to say farewell to our Porirua Dementia Advisor, Debbie Mustard.

Debbie joined the team in late 2020, and after working 50 years as a nurse, is retiring to spend more time with her whānau and mokopuna.

Debbie was instrumental in developing relationships with Maraeroa Marae, Te Rūnanganui o Te Āti Awa, Hikoikoi, Hora te Pai, Vaka Atafaga Pacific Nursing Service and Project Village. We are looking forward to continuing these critical partnerships to continue the work that Debbie started.

Debbie received an outpouring of thanks and acknowledgement for her work; this tribute captures how we feel too: Your work is done but your influence will continue.

Carer’s Big Day Out

The highlight in September was the Carer’s Big Day Out held on World Alzheimers Day, 21 September at Paraparaumu Golf Club. The purpose of the day was to treat family carers for a day out, a time to rest, relax and restore. We focused on wellness and show-cased a range of activities for people to try out including art therapy, music therapy, Voice Arts, and golf!

We are grateful to the Paraparaumu Golf Club for allowing us to use their clubhouse and for providing the food at a subsidised cost – thank you. The feedback from the carers who attended was overwhelming positive; this is a sample of what people said:

Thank you for last Thursday. It was a day where I could relax, participate or not (I could choose) with all the speakers, enjoy delicious food, and just feel separated from all the usual stress and constant awareness of my husband’s dementia.

From left to right clockwise: Arts and crafts, Putting practice, Team debrief

Community Engagement

A core component of our work is raising awareness and understanding of mate wareware/dementia, and we did just that at Coastlands mall in Paraparaumu on Tuesday 17 October. The Kāpiti Community Health Network in partnership with the Kāpiti Coast Older Person’s Council organised an event to bring service providers together to inform the community about what services are available and how to access them. Our Kāpiti team, Sheena and Jackie had a busy day sharing tips with people on maintaining a healthy brain and reducing the risk of getting mate wareware/dementia.

We Have Been in the News!

This year has been a big one for Dementia Wellington: Kristen Phillips, our office manager, had her book published – Dad You’ve Got Dementia: Conversations with my father. Kristen was interviewed by Kathryn Ryan on the Nine to Noon show and has done readings at various venues throughout the Wellington region.

If you haven’t got your copy yet, it is available locally from independent book shops , direct from The Cuba Press, or request it from your local library.

We also featured on TV3 recently with an article on The Project about the Assisted Golf program at the Royal Wellington Golf Club, if you missed it, you can
take a look here

Also, on TV3, Paddy Gower did an item on Young Onset Dementia and featured one of our clients, here is the link:

A big thank you to our clients and volunteers who featured in these two news items