Dementia is a life changing condition

Dementia is a life changing condition, but doesn’t have to be life-ending" - community projects helping people with dementia stay independent


Research presented at Alzheimer’s Association’s International Conference 2012 showed that a co-ordinated, multidisciplinary approach to care in the home can improve quality of life and can greatly reduce the need for people with dementia to leave their homes, allowing them to live independently for longer.

Through interventions including multidimensional needs assessments, memory disorder education and counselling, the team saw a significant drop in the need for participants to be transferred to a care home. Participants also reported improvements in quality of life.

Louise Lakey, Alzheimer's Society policy manager said: “Most people with dementia want to live independently for as long as possible. This study shows this is entirely possible when trained staff work together in partnership to support people in the community.

“The kind of joined up care demonstrated in this study is sadly all too rare. Dementia care shouldn't just be about carers or clinicians working in silos. We need to see more dementia specific training for professionals and joined up working in order to improve care quality and ultimately improve the quality of life of people with dementia.”

The launch of the Prime Minister’s dementia challenge announcing his commitment to make the UK a world leader on dementia has put the spotlight community dementia projects.

Newly opened this June, EachStep Blackley is a brand new North Manchester based dementia care service that offers specialist dementia services including home care, day care, respite care and residential and nursing support.

The new and innovative service provides compassionate, tailored support, delivered by highly trained staff in state-of-the-art facilities.

Sue McLean, director of quality and standards at Community Integrated Care explained how EachStep was: “started from scratch, so that we could create a service that is completely tailored to the needs of people living with dementia but importantly, also offers support for family carers too.”

All staff have been recruited from the local community and chosen because they are passionate about dementia. They have been trained specifically in dementia care and safeguarding.

EachStep Dementia Home Care is a specialist service in Greater Manchester helping people to continue to live independently in their own homes. The service delivers a range of support, day and night, to give people living with dementia security, independence and comfort and can help with

• Personal Care – washing, dressing, help with medication or preparing meals.

• Domestic services – household tasks such as shopping, laundry, ironing or housework.

• Social support – accompaniment to appointments, leisure or social activities.

• Respite services – offering family and other carers the opportunity to take some time out from their role.

Ms Mclean said: “Our home care service is totally adaptable to an individual’s needs, interests and personality. As well as delivering the usual domiciliary care services, like personal care and help to maintain a home, we also support people to pursue their hobbies and access their community. For instance, we take keen swimmers to their local pool and support people who enjoy walking to go to the park.

 “Home care also allows carers to take some time out from their valuable role, so for example we can offer people short packages of support to give family carers time out to go shopping.

“But, as an integrated dementia care service, EachStep can offer carers much greater support. EachStep Blackley includes a respite care service, so if carers need to take longer breaks, for instance to go on holiday, we can also help them to do this. Carers gain real assurance knowing that their loved one is not only being supported by people who have a specialist knowledge of dementia but also know their family member equally well too, having supported them at home.”

Carolanne Devlin, EachStep home care support worker joined the EachStep Home Care team to make a difference to the lives of people with dementia She thinks it is important that people with the condition can live in their own homes for as long as possible, enjoying a good quality of life.

Ms Devlin said: “The support I give depends upon the needs and interests of my clients. I support one lady, Beattie, who enjoys going out walking, having been a member of the Ramblers Association in her youth. We go out twice a week to her local park and this makes a great difference to her. She told me recently that I have given her some of her independence back, which was a lovely thing to hear and exactly the reason why I go to work.

“Beattie also recently joined EachStep’s Day Care Service, attending three days a week. She loves attending day care as it gives her the opportunity to meet new people and take part in activities. The staff who deliver home care to Beattie also work at our day care service too, so Beattie was helped to settle into this new service by familiar people who know her and her needs well.

“This is a great example of how by providing an integrated package of dementia care services, EachStep is able to help people as their needs change and give them an easier transition through care services.

“Dementia is a challenging condition and EachStep really support staff like me to properly understand it and find better ways to offer support. I have been given lots of training including EachStep’s own Dementia Awareness course and training sessions with Admiral Nurses. This commitment from EachStep has really helped to develop us as professionals and enhance the care we give.”

Beattie Hubbard, who uses EachStep home care said: “I like walking, if I couldn’t go out walking, I think I’d be miserable! It’s freedom and I’m used to that. I’m very lucky to have the help I have, Carolanne is good company and she cheers me up.”

EachStep is passionate about raising awareness of dementia and people can contact the service directly or be referred by their healthcare specialist. For more information visit:

Circles of Support for People with Dementia is an innovative three year project which involves local organisations and groups of people developing ‘Circles’ which are a support network improving awareness, understanding and confidence in enabling people to live well with dementia.

The project is the work of The National Development Team for Inclusion, (a not-for-profit organisation concerned with promoting inclusion and equality for people who risk exclusion) and Innovations in Dementia, who work nationally with people with dementia, partner organisations and professionals with the aim of developing and testing projects that will enhance the lives of people with dementia.

Funded by the Department of Health’s Innovation, Excellence and Service Development Fund, Circles of Support for people living with dementia will be developed in the south of England, mid Devon, Dorset, West London and Portsmouth.

This established model enables older and disabled people to lead the lives they want to lead, ensuring that the person is in the driving seat of key decisions about their support.

The Circles build upon people’s natural networks in their local communities including family members, neighbours, friends and volunteers, as well as paid staff. The aim is to provide shared support to help people carry on living in their local communities and stop their networks from shrinking, which often happens as people grow older and if people have dementia.

The Circle helps the person to identify what they would like to do in their day-to-day life, what support would enable it and then is able to make this happen. This project is working directly with people to help them set up and run Circles of Support.

The benefits to individuals from participating include:

• Support for people with dementia (along with their families and carers) to identify what would help them to live well, and practical changes to enable this to happen

• Support for people with dementia (along with their families and carers) to expand their personal networks – both social and support networks

• Helping everyone involved to acquire new skills, confidence and experience in using person centred approaches, including Circles of Support, to provide effective support that helps people stay connected, included and living at home.

Caroline Bernard, programme lead on older people and ageing at NDTi said: “When people develop dementia they often find their personal and natural networks of support getting smaller. Families and friends are either reluctant to help, frightened by the condition or unable to see how they could contribute.

“As a result many people with dementia miss out on opportunities for support and advice and can become isolated, depressed and vulnerable to other health issues. People with dementia and their families tend to manage alone. ‘Circles’ will improve awareness, understanding and confidence in enabling people to live well with dementia.”

Rachael Litherland, director of Innovations in Dementia described the response of local communities about the new project: “We have been delighted with how supportive local people and local communities have already been about the idea of circles of support for people with dementia.

“Dementia is a life changing condition, but doesn’t have to be life-ending. There has been a strong feeling from local networks that they can play a very important role in helping people with dementia keep connected and involved in their lives and communities for as long as possible, with the right support.”

For more information visit:


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