According to the Department of Health, about 750,000 people in the UK have dementia – and this number is expected to double in the next thirty years.

The importance of early diagnosis of dementia, and on encouraging people who think they or their loved one may be showing the first symptoms of the disease to seek help, is well known. Early diagnosis is tremendously important if the condition is to be managed and people are able to get the support that they need from the beginning of their illness.

But what if that support isn’t there?

A report released by the Alzheimer’s Society this week shows the dearth of decent provision. Whilst excellent support does exist, only 41% of the 322,000 people with dementia living in care homes are enjoying a “good quality of life”, according to their relatives.

And that is why we, at United Response, think there is room to test out a new model of support; one that builds on our track record of person-centred thinking and treats each individual in a truly personalised way.

We are delighted to be working with Helen Sanderson Associates to start to explore what a new model of person-centred homecare might look like; and how we might be able to take some of the approaches that we have co-developed over the years to provide really high quality, empowering support for people with dementia and their families.

United Response has been supporting people for 40 years. Over that time, inevitably - some people we support have been diagnosed with dementia. And so we discovered that our skills and the person centred approaches we use can be adapted and transferred to support people through the various stages of their dementia.

One example is using the tool “one page profile”. These capture the whole person – what is important to them, who is important in their life, and how they want to be supported right down to the detail of how they like to dress, what they like to eat and drink. 

Knowing these things are key to providing the best support to anyone but they are even more pertinent when supporting someone with dementia as, with this detailed knowledge, we can recognise the whole person – and their “person-hood” – rather than focusing solely on their illness.

It’s early days as yet; we are in the very early stages of planning a pilot scheme in Lancashire and will be tracking our progress carefully to make sure our approaches work in practice. We hope that by developing a new method of support we can provide the best quality of life and allow people to live in their own home for as long as possible.

Watch this space…

Diane Lightfoot, Director of communications and fundraising.