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Inclusive Community Voluntary Group Becomes Latest ‘Alyn’s Local Heroes’

Published:

Categories: Alyn's Local Heroes, Charities and Third-Sector, News, Volunteering

Dementia Friendly Dunblane Work ‘Invaluable’, Says Stirling MP

Local Stirling MP Alyn Smith has welcomed the efforts of Dementia Friendly Dunblane, a local group of volunteers taking forward valuable work to improve accessibility in the community – and has presented them with an ‘Alyn’s Local Heroes’ award in recognition of their efforts. 

Members of the public can nominate any Stirling-based business, group or charity to receive an ALH award, which celebrates the people, campaigns and work that make Stirling a great place to live, work, study in or visit.

First established as a working group of the Dunblane Development Trust in 2017, the volunteer team at Dementia Friendly Dunblane work to support people living with dementia and their families/carers, helping them feel included and part of the wider community. By raising awareness of dementia and providing education, advice and information to local residents and businesses across Dunblane, the group aims to reduce stigma and ensure the community is accessible for all. This includes important work to successfully introduce the Meeting Centre model of post-diagnostic support.

Mr Smith met with Breda Seaman, Dementia Friendly Dunblane Co-ordinator and Caroline Earnshaw Meeting Centre Manager for the Braeport Centre, to hear more about the work the group are taking forward to ensure everyone is welcome in Dunblane.

Breda Seaman said:

‘It was lovely to meet with Alyn and update him on all the good work our volunteers are undertaking to build the inclusive Dunblane we know we can be – and receive our Alyn’s Local Heroes award! We hope those with dementia, alongside their families and carers, can find a caring and supportive network here at Dementia Friendly Dunblane, and we’re always looking for new ways to expand our reach and take part in further campaigns to improve accessibility. It’s great to count on Alyn’s support in our efforts.’

Alyn Smith MP said:

‘There’s no end to the amount of good work taking place across Stirling to support fellow residents and keep people active and well. Dementia Friendly Dunblane are a cracking bunch of folks, putting together all sorts of activities and social events to support those with dementia in the community. I’m pleased to see them receive an ‘Alyn’s Local Heroes’ award for their stellar efforts, and long may their activities continue.’

Notes:

Photo from left to right, Breda Seaman, Caroline Earnshaw ,Paul Shaw. 

Further Notes to Editor:

What is a Meeting Centre? 

Meeting Centres were established in the Netherlands 30 years ago. They are an evidence-based intervention that seek to provide post-diagnosis support for people living with mild to moderate dementia and their care partners. The Centres are held in informal community settings. The aim is for people with dementia to live at home for longer, reducing or delaying medical intervention, care home placements, crisis support and avoidable admissions. 

Trained staff provide structured activities based on the member’s interests. Meeting Centres support both people living with dementia and their care partners to access wider support services (for example OT assessment, Self-Directed Support, and referral into other post diagnostic support services). 

The Braeport Meeting Centre 

The Braeport Memory Café commenced operation in September 2017. It is open on Wednesday afternoons from 1-4pm. The Café is a safe place for both people with dementia and care partners to talk about and learn from each other’s experience about how to adapt to living with dementia. The activities include ‘normal’ fun things such as board games, bingo, chair- based exercises and singing. 

Advice and peer support is available. Those attending refer to ‘coming to the Club’ a description that reflects its friendly atmosphere. All sessions are built around the interests of the people who attend, so they are fully involved in shaping what happens there. 

The Café began transitioning into a Meeting Centre in January 2022, opening for a second day on Fridays from 11am – 3pm in September 2022. 

To date, forty-four people living with dementia have been supported at the Braeport Meeting Centres and twenty-four care partners. All are considered members and have reported experiencing an improved quality of life; they are more confident, better able to cope with their diagnosis and have improved social skills, balance, and mobility. Care partners are showing increased resilience, benefiting from the professional and peer-to-peer support provided, with improved emotional and physical wellbeing. 

Subsequently they can continue caring for longer, resulting in less need for unnecessary hospital admissions, less reliance on GP and psychological services and a reduction or delay in need for care packages, crisis services and care home placements. 

Family carers get assistance with practical and emotional issues, as well as being able to contribute to social club activities. Some family members simply need to have a break from their caring role. Couples consulting sessions, social activities and excursions help people to enjoy life together. 

A team of staff and volunteers have been trained in the Meeting Centre ethos and provide an enjoyable and flexible programme for both the person with dementia and their care partners. 

Evidence Base 

There is good evidence both from Dutch research and recent UK research that people attending Meeting Centres experience better self-esteem, greater feelings of happiness and sense of belonging than those who don’t attend. 

Those who attended most regularly showed fewer of the more distressing symptoms of dementia and a greater feeling of support. Care Partners also experienced less sense of burden and felt better able to cope and reported high levels of satisfaction with the programme, seeing it as an important way of keeping active and feeling supported. 

Meeting Centres play a key role in reducing stigma and supporting people early after a diagnosis. Early diagnosis can enable the right support strategies to be put in place early on and help prevent crisis situations which may result in preventable hospitalisation and early admission to residential care which both are distressing for those affected by dementia as well as putting a burden on valuable community resources. Meeting Centres reduce the financial burden of care home costs for families and statutory services. 

Meeting Centres work very well in dementia friendly communities and for this reason the Braeport Meeting Centres works very closely with Dementia Friendly Dunblane. 

For further information please contact: 

Contact Caroline Earnshaw: dfdmeetingcentremanager@gmail.com 

               Breda Seaman: dfdcoord@gmail.com