The PFA is committed to giving footballing families living with dementia the support they need, and making sure they are not left alone and without help.
Dawn Astle, daughter of Jeff Astle, and Rachel Walden, daughter of Rod Taylor, have joined the PFA as Family Advisors, to ensure those caring for former players with dementia can easily access helpful support and information.
Our PFA Family Advisors will work closely with you, and various dementia support specialists, to build a strong network that gives you and your family member the emotional, practical and financial support to face dementia with dignity.
Navigating life after a dementia diagnosis can feel isolating, but both Rachel and Dawn come from football families and have lived experience caring for fathers who had developed different forms of dementia. With this unique insight, they are well placed to help you process a difficult diagnosis and offer an understanding ear. They’ll also be able to signpost support that can otherwise be difficult to find and help you access a wide range of emotional and practical assistance from the PFA Charity.
The support provided to each family will be determined by the stage of dementia your family member is experiencing and tailored to accommodate your individual circumstances. Your Family Advisor will spend time talking with you to gain a clear picture of your needs, so we can understand how best to support you and your family.
Then, either Dawn or Rachel will talk you through the variety of options available and offer support as you come to a decision that works for your family. All interactions with your family advisor will be confidential, but to access the right help, we might need to ask for permission to share some details about your personal situation with others.
Support For Early-Stage Dementia
If you’re caring for a former player who is recently diagnosed or living with an early stage of dementia, we can offer benefits advice as well as emotional support and counselling, which many other footballing families living with dementia have found helpful. We may also be able to connect you with social support services in your local area, to help you meet people who share your experience.
Support For Later-Stage Dementia
Support with respite or care in the home may be more useful for the families and carers of former players at a later stage of dementia. If managing your family member has become more difficult at home, you’ll be able to talk through all your options with your Family Advisor, who will work to simplify support access as much as possible.
Any family looking for support from the PFA while caring for a former player with dementia will be taken through the following steps:
• After you contact the PFA, our Family Advisors will get in touch with you for an informal chat over the phone about your situation and what support we can provide.
• They will arrange a time to assess your needs, signpost other support services you are also eligible for and explain the application process when accessing PFA/PFA Charity support.
• They will then assist you with applications, and support you with updates and regular check-ins throughout the process.
• If your application is for financial support, you will be asked to fill out a form to access the Benevolent Fund. This funding is provided via the PFA Charity, and your application will include questions about the player’s financial status and require proof of diagnosis. We understand this may feel intrusive, but it is not intended to be insensitive – these questions are simply a compliance requirement under charity law.
Support Services Offered
The PFA Charity currently offers a variety of grants to support former players with dementia. This includes the following:
Welfare Rights Service
Helpful for families living with dementia at any stage, Independent Benefits Advisor, Brian Snaith is an expert in welfare rights and adult social care. He works closely with families to establish whether the players are receiving all the correct state support and benefits they are eligible for.
This service is not designed to replace available PFA support, but to ensure families are aware of all the assistance that may be useful. Brian will provide direct advice and administrative support to players/families/carers and work alongside the Family Advisors to alleviate some of the pressure the family may be facing.
The wellbeing services we offer to all current and former players are also available to the families and carers of players living with dementia.
If you feel counselling would be beneficial for you, please let Dawn or Rachel know, and they can refer you to the PFA’s Wellbeing team. Someone from the team will be in contact to assess what type of wellbeing support you’d most benefit from, and then connect you with an independent, qualified counsellor for free, confidential advice.
Some of our counsellors have specific experience with dementia and can also offer anticipatory grief counselling. Absolutely no information expressed during these counselling sessions will be shared with the PFA.
As the player’s condition progresses, we can offer financial assistance to make their home more safely accessible to meet their changing needs. This can include home modifications, installing specialist equipment or any other specific requirements that the player's needs dictate.
Any assistance for home care will be strictly guided by individual needs and will be dependent on financial circumstances on a case-by-case basis. This could include weekly support visits to give the primary carer a break, social visits from former player associations or in more extreme cases daily support to help with the player’s day-to-day needs.
Similarly, any applications for respite care support will be determined by the needs of the player and their family or carer. Every family will be different, but as an example, respite care could begin with one-week stints every month for three months, after which the needs will be reassessed and reviewed.
Your Family Advisor will be happy to discuss any other specific or additional support you or your family might require, and work with the PFA to identify how to meet those needs. All additional requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis, and decisions will depend on individual circumstances.