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Toni & Annette's Story

Toni and Annette’s careers in the RAF meant frequent moves to new bases, resettling, and adapting many times, a familiar story to anyone with experience of life in the services. Whilst having a tight family bond this resulted in limited and small friendship groups and as Toni reflects: “we find it difficult to make friends, but Sage House has changed that.”

A couple camping before living with dementia

Annette was diagnosed with dementia in late 2022. Her NHS assessment was undertaken at Sage House. Although support was offered at that time Toni and Annette felt they would manage as a family team, no doubt indicative of the self-reliance built from many years in the RAF.

The difference our support has made:

Over time, with their initial hesitancy overcome they began to join us at Sage House for some of the varied activities available - for both the person living with dementia and their loved one. Annette played a lot of sport when she was younger, which is talked about lots at the chatter table, but with her life-long love of music they both enjoy our weekly singing groups. “Singing for the Soul is wonderful, full of joy, encouragement and participation.”

Dementia-friendly singing activity at Sage House, West Sussex

More recently other groups provide opportunities for socialising including the ‘Chatter Tables’ in our community café, the ‘Knit and Natter’ group for Annette which provides Toni with some valuable personal time to read a book, catch up on the news, and have a coffee. “We really enjoy the chatter table, it’s great to see familiar faces and chat about everything, not just their personal connection with dementia. Sage House is such a calm and friendly environment.”

With Annette and Toni feeling more comfortable within the supportive environment of Sage House they took their next step and accessed our Wayfinding advice service. Their Wayfinder provides practical guidance and emotional support on all aspects of their personal dementia journey, giving continuity of care and ensuring that their unique circumstances are fully understood.

Toni and Annette reflect: “Sage House is very comfortable, relaxing, a place that helps take the weight off our shoulders and minds and combined with the activities makes us very happy. There is no judgement here, and everyone is very welcoming and friendly.”

Ex-services support group in West Sussex

Through their growing confidence, trust, and blossoming friendships they have both just now volunteered to help coordinate the new ‘Ex-Services Support Group’ where the group talk about all things armed forces and share many stories. It brings back precious memories, particularly for Annette who remembers well their time abroad.

It can be challenging to make new friends, especially if you are used to a life of constant change. Annette and Toni were keen to meet people in the local area and especially those with similar life experiences. Sage House is all about people and our ability to understand each person and their family and to ensure they feel welcomed, comfortable, and can find the best support for them on their dementia journey.

“The support and encouragement we have received has been amazing, we have even attended a fundraising event with our little car we built ourselves, for fun, laughter, making memories, and giving something back.”

“The café is a lovely bonus, as we can have a cuppa and cake as we both very much like to do!”.

You can help us support families like Toni and Annette with a regular donation. Please click here to give a monthly gift and help people living with dementia in our community.


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