Dementia Support Project
A story by The Abbeyfield Kirkcaldy Society
We provided practical care, guidance and periods of respite for the families/carers of Dementia sufferers. This was tailored to individual needs and the best, personalised solutions for supporting them.
What Dementia Support Project did
Several forms and methods of providing short break activities were employed – day support in groups including tailored sessions for the carers and one-to-one care as appropriate together with short break holidays for the dementia sufferers. A lunch time café facility which allowed carers to have an extended break during the middle of the day from their caring duties. This additionally benefited the dementia suffers themselves by providing a safe environment for them to have lunch with all necessary support without the stresses of a conventional high street or hotel setting. Further, an information service was available to carers with individual sessions as required.
Much of our work took place in our domestic bungalow settings but also out in the community as appropriate. On occasion and for the longer periods of respite stay our residential care home facilities were used.
We had identified gaps in existing service provision for dementia sufferers both at the beginning of the condition where a formal diagnosis has not been made by a clinician. Also, later, where full NHS support is not available until a person's condition reaches an acute stage.
We had experience in dealing with people and their families who had already come into contact with us either through our existing outreach and day support services or by referral from NHS or Social Work staff. Part of what we do is in providing one to one support for individuals who require such care, which in turn provides carers with much needed respite time.
Through this work and because of the project funding, we were able to increase the time people can be cared for in their own homes without other intervention. It has enabled the families/carers to better continue supporting people at home thus avoiding hospital admissions and creating other demands on NHS resources.
Abbeyfield believes one size does not fit all; everything we did was structured towards individual needs. Our work followed that principle and by providing short breaks we assisted many families to lead better quality of life and enabled some to be able to continue doing so beyond what would otherwise have been possible.
What The Abbeyfield Kirkcaldy Society has learned
The main challenge to our project was always being able to meet the demand that we are aware already existed. There are so many ways we could assist the people concerned, through one-to-one support, tailored services for families/carers, setting up support groups, the dementia friendly café etc.
Funding is a key to providing such services and one of the things we have discovered is how difficult is to obtain the necessary, adequate funding to create a new service even though the otherwise unfulfilled demand for it exists.
The secondary challenge is to ensure that people who used our service can be directed to other specialist support in a seamless fashion. Since we already have many close links with NHS professionals and Social Work staff this is practical but seamless links are not always available since , even in normal times, all services were already stretched.
We were gratified to see the benefits the service did bring to families, not least in giving them an enhanced quality of life and by avoiding the need for hospital and other services through being enable to care for their loved ones at home.
How The Abbeyfield Kirkcaldy Society has benefitted from the funding
We benefitted greatly by being able to provide a lunch club facility, bringing people from the community into a supported and supportive environment who generally have no equivalent service. While this had been an aspiration and we knew that there was an unfulfilled demand for such a service, it strengthened our understanding of the benefits it could bring. In doing so it increased the range of people who have come into contact with us and has apparently enhanced our reputation since those families who came thus into contact with us initially have maintained their links. With restrictions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic we are only in a position of maintaining the services currently we provide; when it becomes possible, with the right level of funding we could certainly develop our service to meet the needs we know already exist.
Refreshed Carers who have taken the chance to do things for themselves in life that they would otherwise not have been able to accomplish
This outcome was fully achieved. Carers were freed for periods of the day and, in some cases longer, to able to take time to do things for and by themselves in ways which many had not been able to do for months and even years. This extended to practical things such as being able to arrange for tradesmen to work the house which would otherwise have proved extremely challenging if not impractical had the dementia sufferer remained at home.
Carers with better understanding of the condition and able to cope with the ongoing changes and variations in their loved ones situation
Fully achieved although the demand for the work done grows all the time. People suffering from dementia and living in the community are generally cared for by families/carers who may not have great knowledge of how to maintain someone in their home environment in the most supportive way. By providing the right type of guidance and information about things to do or avoid in a normal domestic situation – light, noise, colour - the person can be assisted to live a better quality of life which in turn reduces the stress on the family/carer. Our staff are trained to identify the changes that take place in the person; sometimes these can happen very suddenly. Carers and families were enabled to create an appropriate home environment in order to forestall problems and reactions. Also enable to recognise signs of change and then know how and where to seek further support. The whole quality of life the families have had has been enhanced through the project.