Award amount: £31,626 over 3 years
Organisation: Alzheimer’s Support
The Home and Community Support Service
Alzheimer’s Support (AS) is a charity based in Wiltshire that provides support for people with dementia and their carers. The charity offers a range of services to support people living at home with dementia, helping them to maintain as much independence and control over their lives as possible. One of their services is the Home and Community Support Service, which we have funded over the last 3 years, specifically the transport costs associated with this project.
In 2015 AS was one of just ten UK charities to receive a GlaxoSmithKline Impact Award for excellence in the health care sector.
Wiltshire is a large, rural county characterised by villages and small market towns. People have to travel long distances to access services and transport links are notoriously difficult. Many people affected by dementia experience loneliness and, in a rural setting, they can quickly become isolated.
Being a carer of someone with dementia can be physically demanding, as well as emotionally challenging. The carer often feels unable to leave their partner at home to go shopping, to maintain friendships or perhaps visit the dentist, which can result in them becoming cut off from the rest of society.
People with dementia face huge emotional challenges, including anxiety when going out, not recognising friends and loved ones and frustration when they cannot undertake basic tasks. This can lead to depression, reduced confidence and social isolation.
The Home and Community Support Service (HACSS) provides a break to the family carer by taking over the caring responsibilities for a few hours each week. Trained support workers provide tailored support and companionship to the person with dementia, visiting them in their own homes and taking them out on social trips.
There are 65 support workers who work across Wiltshire and they are carefully matched with clients. They work closely with clients to identify activities and initiatives that are meaningful to them, that help stimulate the brain and promote independence and mobility, such as going on shopping trips, attending appointments, listening to music or watching sport.
Is it working?
During the last year of the grant (2017/18), AS supported 272 people with dementia, providing:
- 30,069 hours of care
- And supporting over 190 family carers
In regard to travel in particular, the Home Support team travelled 98,000 miles, which included 8000 ‘social’ miles, going out and about with clients.
Indicative of the good work AS is doing, in 2017 the charity was awarded the contract by the council to provide dementia services across the county. (When the grant was awarded in 2015, AS was working in East and West Wiltshire.)
Furthermore, in 2017, the Home Support Service won the Best Team category at the National Dementia Care Awards.
As a result of AS’s work, in October 2018 the charity was invited to be a partner organisation of a regional project, Developing Community Mental Health Assets, in collaboration with Age UK, Mind and the Wiltshire Centre for Independent Living. This project is providing a range of free courses to workers in the emergency services, NHS and voluntary organisations.
AS has also developed an online resource, the Dementia Roadmap, to guide people through the process of being diagnosed with dementia in Wiltshire.
Tony, a support worker at Alzheimer’s Support, has been matched with Jim, who has vascular dementia (see photo). Tony drops Jim’s wife, Ann, at the supermarket and often takes Jim to a garden centre.
Son James said: “The best thing for Dad’s mood now is Alzheimer’s Support, especially the Home Support Service. Life can be very quiet for him a lot of the time, but he loves the chat and the variety as he has always been so sociable. He and Tony have a great relationship and it’s good for Mum too as she can have some independence too. The fact that they are so flexible and ‘can-do’ about how they work, for instance by enabling my mother to get out to shop on her own, is an enormous bonus.”
You can read more about the Home and Community Service, on Alzheimer’s Support’s website.