There are around two thousand people in South Gloucestershire living with dementia, and many are cared for by family or friends. Based on what carers told us, we produced a directory to help them gain advice and support in their local area more easily.
The directory, or 'Dementia Carers Support Map', sets out what support is available, and how it can be accessed - both locally and nationally. It covers every stage of caring for someone with dementia, from diagnosis to bereavement and loss.
To demonstrate to decision-makers what changes needed to be made at a higher level to support carers, we also used our research to compile a report. Our recommendations for the future of dementia care support included the development of a free, accessible befriending service, access to counselling in the community, and flexible appointments to meet the needs of carers.
In the report, we also highlighted the need for improved communication – for instance, the availability of a carer that speaks the same language as the patient – which has been raised with local health partners. The directory has also been sent to GP practice managers, so that it can be shared with any carers that need support.
The project has also prompted a wider conversation about the experiences of people caring for individuals with dementia in South Gloucestershire. The Three Shires Medical Practice Patient Participation Group - a voluntary group of people registered with the surgery, who meet to improve and develop the practice - have formed a working group to investigate setting up a memory café in the area.
Memory cafés are spaces where people with any form of dementia can socialise or engage in activities such as listening to music or playing games. They are beneficial not only for the person with dementia, but also their carers. Carers are vulnerable to experiencing poor physical and emotional health themselves, as a result of the pressures of caring. Memory cafés offer a break from the daily caring routine and the opportunity to get to know other carers in the area.
If you would like to read our full report, 'Caring for someone with dementia: a unique journey', click here.