We coordinate 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.
Our dementia self-help groups bring tenants in sheltered housing together to learn how to support themselves and each other through the difficulties of living with dementia and related conditions.
Group members learn practical coping skills to increase their independent living skills, including memory techniques, approaches to well-being 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 to meetings to share ideas and information with the group. Visiting guests have included a creative writer, a memory specialist and a primary school choir.
Three self-help groups ran for six months between September 2012 and January 2014 before becoming self-sustaining with the help of volunteers.
The project group facilitator has 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.
Following the learning from this project, we plan to extend the self-help project to 25 new groups of older people living in extra care and sheltered accommodation at risk of social isolation and developing associated mental health problems.