The new service, which adds to the support already provided by Making Space, offers those living with dementia a place where their views on how they are treated can be heard and used to influence how services can be designed to meet their needs better in the future. The project has been developed by Making Space, in partnership with The Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP).
The new service has been launched in Scarborough, where a group of people living with dementia and their carers now meet once a month. It has a specific focus on those who have a recent diagnosis of dementia, or who are younger and have been diagnosed with dementia earlier, and gives them the opportunity to develop and maintain their social networks.
It also encourages participation in local projects to help reduce social isolation and improve wellbeing and will be rolled out to other parts of the county over the coming months using Skype and conference calls to allow even more rural groups to be part of the meetings.
The group is going to get involved with community groups to reach people living with dementia in rural areas, taking advantage of mobile technology to connect and support each other, and develop an email group to share information electronically. They will also organise local events to raise awareness of dementia and reduce the stigma that can still be associated with it. Importantly, the group will also support individuals and groups in having their voice heard and understood by people commissioning dementia support services.
"This new service is a very welcome addition to the work Making Space is already doing to make sure that people living with dementia and their families can get the information and support they need, particularly when they have been recently diagnosed," said County Councillor Clare Wood, North Yorkshire's Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration.
"The dementia support service helps people to come to terms with their diagnosis and understand the options available to them - accessing what they need, when they need it. It offers a holistic approach that provides a constant source of help for people through what can be a very complex and difficult time.
"Importantly, this new service will also give them the chance to talk to others in a similar situation, have their voice heard and influence how and where we provide the services they need."
Making Space provides a dementia support service in the Scarborough and Ryedale, Hambleton, Richmondshire, Whitby and Craven areas. Its successes during the first two years of providing a dementia support service include:
- working with memory clinics and attending monthly education sessions for newly diagnosed patients at the Friarage hospital;
- promoting the dementia support service to GPs and making sure information leaflets are available through the surgeries;
- holding drop-in sessions at libraries in Malton, Scarborough, Settle, Ingleton and Crosshills;
- being active members of local Dementia Action Alliances, working towards dementia friendly communities with local services and retailers; and
- providing weekly one to one support sessions for people affected by dementia and their families.
"This work means that more people living with North Yorkshire are being helped, enabling them to continue doing what they have always done and to try new things for as long as possible," added Cllr Wood. "Making Space is there for them and their carers offering support, information, education and coping mechanisms. A family they helped recently thanked them for 'Giving us the right amount of information at the right time and not overloading us'."
Making Space Team Leader Roy Tomlinson said: "People affected by dementia can feel that their voices are not heard and they have little to contribute to life in their local area. Our new service will enable them to express their views on the things they think will help them, and make it easier for them to play a part in their local community - which all helps to improve their quality of life and help them to live well with dementia."
Dementia Support is provided in other parts of the county by another voluntary organisation, Dementia Forward, also funded by the County Council and the CCGs.