Scotland’s first National Dementia Strategy was introduced in 2010. But in our geographically challenging area in the rural Highlands of Scotland, where there was a distinct lack of local services, carers and people with dementia who had already received a diagnosis fell through the net and continued to receive little or no support.
Dementia Friendly Communities (DFC), now known as Connecting Communities, established as a Community Interest Company in 2012 until 2017 when we became a registered charity (OSCR SC047864), was the vehicle we used as a community to push upwards to ensure we met Scotland’s Dementia Strategy coming down.
In 2015 our dementia friendly community was awarded funding to become financially self-sustaining while supporting people affected by dementia to live their lives to the full. This funding enabled us to continue and introduce a number of projects to fill the gaps in support available for local people with dementia and carers. Our aim was to create a programme of socially inclusive activities that would help people affected by dementia to feel fully supported and able to remain in their homes for as long as possible.
The Projects that make up our Circle of Support
Helmsdale Village Hub – for those ages 55+ 3 days per week with activities around exercise, creativity and cognitive stimulation designed to keep people active physically, mentally and socially.
Bridge Over Troubled Waters – a tailored service of care support for short-term requirements to bring the gap between a problem and its solution e.g. illness/injury of a carer, moving home, waiting for a long-term care package etc.
Dinner To Your Door – a local delivery service Monday to Thursday to achieve improved nutrition for those who struggle to prepare a hot meal each day. Our delivery driver spends time with customers, where required, to offer a listening ear.
Helmsdale Men’s Shed – a local Men’s Shed to encourage greater socialisation among men and, ultimately, to improve well-being.
Interactive screens – large interactive screens introduced to two village Hubs, a care home, a hospital and a day centre to facilitate improved connection between the locations, encourage instinctive reminiscence and benefit from remote training opportunities.
Art ‘n Blether – originally intended to reach ‘unidentified’ carers by providing a safe, friendly community setting with art tutor, materials etc. for two hours of art each week and a poop-up cafe for a blether afterwards. The project now benefits a range of individuals in the community.
Awareness events – a number of socially inclusive events to bring the whole community together, including a Christmas dinner, Dog Show and Easter activities in partnership with a local school.