22nd January 2020

£200k to support creative dementia projects

Somerset County Council has now invested more than £200,000 in creative and imaginative grass roots dementia projects.

New projects receiving backing from the authority include one that offers gardening and hedge-laying activities, and another that focusses on music to  support people with dementia and their carers.

The authority is looking to invest more than half a million pounds in total to kick-start and extend projects and groups that run day-time activities for people with dementia and provide respite for their unpaid carers.

This is on top of its major spend on support for people with dementia which includes around £3.5m in special residential care, £4.5m in nursing care, plus a portion of the £14m it spends every year on homecare.

The list of grassroots projects is growing with four new projects coming on stream thanks to grant support.

Age UK is launching the first charity-led Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) project with two qualified Somerset practitioners offering the therapy. It aims to help those taking part as well as their carers who will get four to six hours a week of “free time.”

Take Art is setting up a two-year programme of creative day time activities that provide dance and wordplay sessions to support people with memory loss or dementia and their carers.

Ark at Egwood, based at Merriott, near Crewkerne, provides land-based activities as the therapeutic use of outside space and animals has been shown to help restore wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem with people of all ages.

Activities may include: horticulture, gardening, hedge laying, cooking, baking
creative crafts and art activities and group discussion. People can choose the activity that appeals most to them.

The Find Your Voice Momentum projects will bring together people living with dementia and their carers and support them in music and movement group work across a ten-week course. There is an emphasis on using your voice, taking up space, being loud and expressing yourself. The funding will cover 39 ten-week-courses across Somerset.

The Council’s grant support scheme, which should eventually see £565,000 awarded, is supporting grass roots. They need to offer innovative, community-based ways of providing support that encourages people with dementia to socialise and take an active part in their communities.

More than £200,00 has been awarded so far, with projects either up and running or about to launch including schemes in Chard, Wincanton, Wellington, Taunton, Wells and across the county.

Councillor David Huxtable, Cabinet member for Adult Social Care, said: “The latest projects to benefit are imaginative and creative and will improve the lives of those with dementia and their devoted carers. This is the kind of support that we want to encourage and help flourish.

“The growing prevalence of dementia is something that all local authorities will need to cope with and cater for in the long-term, and these projects sit alongside the major investment we make every year through our home, residential and nursing care budgets.

Other scheme already supported by these grants include:

  • Reminiscence Learning, based in Wellington: a local charity working with people with dementia and their carers being funded to open two extra days a week for respite activity sessions with one-to-one and group sessions, a hot lunch and counselling for carers.
  • Dementia and Arts Programme run by the Creative Innovation Centre (CIC) in Taunton: being funded to run 10-week programmes throughout the year supporting people living with dementia and their carers through art classes and music.
  • The Active Social Minds project: a three-year project run by the Heads Up charity based in Wells. It will be running a range of memory workshops offering a range of different group activities including art, music, cooking and gentle exercise.
  • The Filo project: offering daytime care for small groups within a host’s home. Already well-established in Devon, Torbay and West Dorset, it is being funded for training to develop the project in Somerset.

Grants have also supported the:

  • Parks Active Living Group in Minehead which runs two lunch and social groups.
  • Feel Better with a Book project which supports people to read aloud together. Funding will help extend the project that’s already being delivered in libraries.
  • Lawrence Centre in Wells which offers activities, lunch and social get togethers for older people. The grant will help extend opening hours, develop a volunteer driving scheme, and refurbish the kitchen and furniture.