Winston Churchill Memorial Trust
Background to the Project
My husband and I retired to the Scottish Highlands in 2000. My husband was diagnosed in 2005 with Vascular Dementia and we both struggled to cope because of our rural location and complete lack of support. I represented carers for Alzheimer Scotland in March 2011 at ADI in Toronto. Blown away by what I heard, especially from Dr Amit Dias of India who had found a solution using lay people to detect early dementia symptoms and carer stress in families, particularly in rural areas. Realised I could adapt this to our rural situation in Scotland.
- To develop a warning system using lay people to detect not only early symptoms of dementia, but as importantly, family carer stress in the early days after diagnosis.
- Dementia is an illness that is grossly unrecognised, under-diagnosed and misunderstood because of lack of awareness by the public. At the same time it is growing to be one of the major challenges for the future. While early diagnosis is imperative for proper care, there is no reliable warning system in the Highlands to detect early symptoms of dementia or carer stress.
- There is however a system whereby lay people working as volunteers or paid carers go into homes regularly to assist families in various ways. I believe Dr Dias’ cost-effective home care project can be adapted to train such lay workers to recognise early dementia/carer stress symptoms and more importantly to pass on that information to those who can put proper support in place
- Produce training programmes for lay staff/family carers
- Pass on the programmes to other rural areas throughout the UK
- Produce papers on this project for presentation at conferences/workshops etc.
How will the project benefit others
- On my return I shall work with different local groups to institute programmes in line with what I learn
- Plus set up guidelines for lay workers to pass on information to the appropriate services for early support: no-one should have to do this dementia journey alone.
- After diagnosis, most people with dementia and their families face a challenging future, which is compounded when support is not offered early enough, often resulting in the person with dementia being cut off from his familiar world and the carer suffering stress similar to that of grieving.
- If dementia symptoms/carer stress can be spotted early on and dealt with, no-one will have to take the same lonely journey we had without support.
- If the project is successful in the rural Highlands, it can also be adapted to other rural areas in the UK.