Dementia Self-Help Project
We are co-ordinating the formation, facilitation and evaluation of three self-help, peer-support groups for people with dementia (or suspected dementia) in extra care and sheltered housing schemes across London. The project is being run in partnership with Housing 21.
Our dementia self-help groups bring tenants in sheltered housing together to learn to support themselves and each other through the difficulties of living with dementia and related conditions.
Group members learn practical coping methods and skills to increase their independent living skills including memory techniques, approaches to wellbeing and planning for the future. This positive approach enables the groups to make plans to retain their control and enjoyment of life throughout their retirement.
The groups meet weekly, and focus on a different activity or theme at each meeting. Members learn and practice new skills each week, such as creative writing or Sudoku to help keep their minds active.
Periodically, experts are invited into meetings to share ideas and information with the group. Visiting guests have included a creative writer, a memory specialist and a dog.
The first self-help group started in September 2012, and in March 2013 the running of the group was handed over to two volunteers, one of whom is a tenant where the project is located. You can read about the group’s experiences in their blog.
The second self-help group is halfway through the initial six month period facilitated by the Mental Health Foundation, and a third self-help group has recently started to meet.The project group facilitator has already reported members’ increased confidence and enjoyment of life. Members have demonstrated their ability to learn new skills, form friendships and explore difficult issues in a caring and supportive way with others facing similar challenges.
We are now looking to extend the self-help project for other older people living in extra care and sheltered accommodation at risk of social isolation and developing associated mental health problems.
Find out more about the project by reading Jack’s story.
Watch a video in which Cindy Glover, the Project Facilitator, explains more about the self-help groups.
Contact Toby Williamson, Head of Development & Later Life, Mental Health Foundation for more information about the project and Dr Eva Cyhlarova, Head of Research about the evaluation.
Find out more about dementia.