It saw them set out to work with carers of someone with dementia not accessing many social opportunities or support services and at high risk of mental and physical ill health owing to the stress and isolation associated with full time caring. They also set out to capture feedback from carers to inform and develop support for them in future and give them a stronger voice in the current climate of austerity.
Consulting with 300 dementia carers registered with RCSS, the project put out a simple questionnaire to gauge how they were coping, what services they were accessing and what barriers they faced. Last October, the project successfully applied to the Community Cash Fund and was awarded a £650 grant to deliver four monthly support groups and activities between November 2017 and February 2018.
To ensure success, the project worked through carer feedback on the choice venue, timing of activities and events and making sure activities were planned in advance and included three peer support groups with speakers for the carers. They also made sure the activities provided for those with dementia were based on an invaluable pre-selection questionnaire called ‘This is Me’, designed to provide detailed information on the caree’s likes, dislikes, abilities and any support needs.
The project overall accorded with 4 Healthwatch Redbridge Priorities. Ensuring people have access to the right health and social care services they need to stay well, supporting people using Health and Social Care Services to have a voice, accessing local mental health services and ensuring that Health and Social Care organisations comply with Accessible Information Standards.
With 35 carers and 6 volunteers participating in the project, carers reported feeling more included, better supported and informed about local services. The project gave an opportunity to engage with one of the hardest to reach groups and taught the group the barriers dementia carers face and how to overcome them.