Research project into dementia self-help gets underway

Housing 21, in partnership with the Mental Health Foundation, has begun a two year dementia self help project.

The project will involve the setting up, facilitation and evaluation of three self help, peer support groups of up to eight people with dementia living in different Housing 21 extra care/sheltered housing schemes across London.

The aims of the initiative are to find out whether an improved quality of life can be achieved for people with dementia and their family members; whether those participating in the groups are able to remain longer in their current homes and whether the groups can be self-sustaining.

Rachael Dutton, research manager for Housing 21 said: “We’re very pleased to be working with the Mental Health Foundation on this exciting and interesting project. There will be a strong focus on enabling participants to understand more about dementia and the use of simple, practical and coping strategies.”

Toby Williamson, Head of Development and Later Life at the Mental Health Foundation says: “Maintaining independence and a good quality of life is just as important for people with dementia as it is for the rest of us. With more people being diagnosed earlier with dementia this project is trying out an innovative way of doing this using self help and peer support, which will be of interest to housing providers and dementia organisations alike.”

Funders for the project include City Bridge Trust, Salters’ Charitable Foundation and the Pixel Fund. Joseph Rowntree Foundation will fund the evaluation of the project, which will be carried out by the Mental Health Foundation.

The groups, which will have a recently appointed group facilitator, will meet on a weekly basis to address a range of practical issues about living with dementia. Among the many and varied topics looked at during the sessions will be understanding and coping with confusion and forgetfulness, how staff and family can help, planning for the future, keeping healthy and mentally active and sources of help and information.

A full report and evaluation will be produced at the end of the project along with practical guidance for social housing providers wishing to develop similar groups.