Jesmond Dementia Action Alliance

Jesmond,Newcastle upon Tyne

Your story

Jesmond Dementia Action Alliance was started by a group of local people who wanted to make Jesmond, a suburb of Newcastle upon Tyne, a dementia-friendly community: a community that is inclusive and understanding of those affected by dementia.

Group introduction

A group of local people started meeting in 2014 and Jesmond Dementia Action Alliance (JDAA) officially launched in July 2015. We want to make Jesmond an inclusive, compassionate and safe place for people with dementia along with their carers. We want people with dementia and their carers to have fun, to be able to make friends and maintain friendships, and for local businesses to have a better understanding of dementia.

The group started with three objectives; to raise awareness of dementia locally, to raise awareness of people’s support needs and to grow a strong voice for people with dementia and their carers. The group began by encouraging the training of local dementia champions: volunteers who run dementia training and give people information on how they can make a difference in the lives of people with dementia. These champions have so far trained 360 dementia friends locally. The group has also worked with local businesses, churches care homes, schools, cafes and shops across Jesmond, 30 of who have already signed up to be Alliance members, pledging to make a difference to the lives of people with dementia and their careers.

An information hub has been set up in the local library, with reading well books on prescription that have been recommended by health professionals and information about activities and support that is available.

JDAA have recently been working with Newcastle University on designing an app for young people, which will support them to develop a repository of information and help them to communicate with relatives who have dementia.

Earlier this year, with grant funding, we started to run local activity groups for people with dementia and their carers. July 2017, saw the publication of an All-Party Parliamentary Group Inquiry Report: Creative Health: The Arts for Health and Wellbeing. This report emphasises the evidence for positive effects of arts on physical and mental well-being. We identified that the activities that could be most beneficial for people with dementia are: singing, dance and table tennis. All these activities are known to be good for physical and mental health; to possibly slow down the onset of dementia; are entertaining; and can be enjoyed by all family members. We are linking the activities into other resources in our community, for example café mornings, thereby increasing people’s local links.

Our local GPs are also involved as they are aware of the beneficial outcomes of these groups. We started a table tennis group in June, a singing group in July and plan to start a dance group in September. Our plan is that these groups will be funded through the grant for the first year. After this, we will either make a charge for the groups or apply for further funding.

How would this funding have an impact on your community?

We would like some additional funding to pay towards transport during the winter months. At the moment we are providing these groups at no cost and we expect that by the end of one year we will have a substantial number of people attending. We are concerned that wet, cold and icy weather may put people off coming to the groups on foot or by public transport. If we can support people and their carers to attend the groups over the winter months, then they are more likely to have long-term involvement with these beneficial activities.

We set up these groups because we know that these types of regular social activities for older people and their families, will reduce social isolation and reduce the likelihood of dementia, but we are concerned that as winter approaches, it will be more difficult to maintain people’s involvement. This funding would not only enable us to offer transport, but also to evaluate the impact of providing transport on people’s attendance and inform any future provision.

"‘I hope you don’t mind, but I took some of these song sheets back to the residential home, photocopied them, and I’ve been singing them every day with the residents. They love it. They ask every Friday if we are going to the singing group’. Sandra. Residential care worker."

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