Connecting People, Connecting Support is an online space where people with dementia, family members and care staff can access research-informed resources that promote quality of life.
The site has been highlighted in NHS England’s Dementia wellbeing in the COVID-19 pandemic report as part of the ‘Living Well’ list of recommended resources and so far, there have been around 50,000 page views to date.
Dementia is a condition that currently affects over 850,000 people in the UK. Covid-19 has meant that many individuals who would ordinarily attend day centres for support are now confined to home. This is creating challenges for the person with dementia and family members who are not given access to the space, stimulation and respite they need.
Connecting People, Connecting Support seeks to support individuals at this time by providing a focus for interactions and engagement in meaningful activity. The structure revolves around conversation starters, things to try, games to play and signposts to other resources.
The site has also been endorsed by the Royal College of Occupational Therapists and is included in information booklets for a number of hospital trusts as well as for the Dementia Alliance Strategy for Sheffield.
Alzheimer Scotland have also supported the distribution of the website and its associated printable resources as well as having involvement in the development and piloting of the project team’s post-diagnostic support programme called Journeying Through Dementia.
Dr Claire Craig, co-director of the design-led research centre Lab4Living, said: “Our work in Lab4Living focuses on the role of design in promoting quality of life so to see the reach of the impact of Connecting People Connecting Support is absolutely wonderful.
“People living with dementia and their families have described the materials as a ‘life-line’ and have marvelled at the speed with which we were able to respond.
“We’ve also had some great feedback from colleagues in Australia and Canada who are keen to promote the resource and pilot it across their own healthcare systems and we are also continuing to work with Alzheimer Scotland to integrate this work into a national intervention that all people with dementia and their families can access.”
Researcher Helen Fisher added: “At a time like this, one of the most moving things has been the way that communities have come together. Occupational therapists, artists, musicians and people with dementia are contacting us from across the country – from Brighton to Aberdeen – and people are really keen to share their ideas and offer support.
"One of the key areas of our research is the role of design in supporting compassionate communities and this outpouring is testament of the kindness and generosity of spirit that exists. It’s a real privilege to be involved in research at Lab4Living and to see the impact it can make.”
The team is also encouraging people to develop their own resources for the website, based on activities that they know work for them. The plan is to make printable versions of the information and activities available for support workers for their home visits to people with dementia.
Lab4living recently secured a significant grant from Research England to develop its world-leading research. The focus of the team’s work is in exploring the role of design to support health and quality of life.
Follow @Lab4Living @AHPdementia and @AlzScot on Twitter or Instagram for regular updates and ways to get involved. Visit Connecting People, Connecting Support here.