Peer Support for People with Dementia resource pack launched

The Health Innovation Network – the Academic Health Science Network for South London - has launched a resource pack to promote and encourage more support opportunities for people with dementia. Bringing together examples of good practice and evidenced-based guidance, the pack aims to help groups and organisations better support people with dementia in south London communities.

The resource pack introduces the concept of a ‘Peer Support System’ that recognises the value of social opportunities for people with dementia to meet others in the community, whether they are informal or structured opportunities, dementia specific or available to everyone to enjoy.

Health Innovation Network Dementia Project Manager, Amy Semple said, 'People with dementia and their carers say that peer support groups are important as they provide opportunities to speak to other people in a similar situation and provide social interaction, which often is much needed.'

Amy added: 'Most people, particularly those in the early stages of dementia also want to continue taking part in generic social clubs and activity groups within their communities, but for many, dementia can lead to social isolation.'

The Health Innovation Network conducted a mapping exercise which found a wide variation in provision of support for people with dementia in South London – with some limited or non-existent opportunities, particularly for ethnic minority groups, younger people with dementia and lesbian and gay people.  Variation in support is, unfortunately an issue reported by people with dementia across the whole of the UK, and the Health Innovation Network is hoping the pack will help change this.

The pack was developed in partnership with leading dementia and older people charities, with contributions from Innovations in Dementia, The Alzheimer’s Society, AGE UK and Mental Health Foundation.  Local groups working with people with dementia across south London worked closely with the Health Innovation Network dementia team to provide case studies and contribute to the films within the pack.

The pack is designed for

  • Statutory, community and voluntary sectors who want to offer people with dementia the opportunity to meet others in a similar situation.
  • People setting up, running or involved in peer support groups or community and activity groups which include, or could include people with dementia.
  • People who are commissioning or funding services for people with dementia.

The pack contains

  • Case studies and films of people with dementia and their relatives talking about how important peer support is for them.
  • Films of group facilitators and volunteers who support people with dementia
  • Information on making existing groups dementia friendly with resources on improving the group environment and group activities.
  • How to set up and run groups for people with dementia, including information on staff training, fundraising sources and evaluation aids.

Michael Edwards, Chair of Trustees, Lambeth Healthy Living Club, based in Stockwell, where people with dementia took part in short films for the pack, said, 'This is going to be a truly useful resource. We are always trying to share our experience as a dementia-centred community and to learn from others’ innovations.'

You can download the resource pack by clicking here.

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