Peer support can play a critical role in improving the wellbeing, social support and practical coping strategies of older people living with dementia. This paper describes selected findings from the Mental Health Foundation’s evaluation of three peer support groups for people living with dementia in extra-care housing schemes. It highlights the groups as a promising approach for maintaining cognitive faculties, reducing social isolation, increasing social networks and improving overall wellbeing. A mixed-method study design examined the impact of the groups on participants’ wellbeing, managing memory, independent living skills and social support. Participants reported positive impact from taking part in the support groups for wellbeing, social support and practical coping strategies. Participants also reported positive benefits of the groups on communication abilities, managing memory and managing their lives. Peer support groups in extra-care housing schemes address the psychological, social and emotional needs of people with dementia. This evaluation adds to the literature on the effectiveness of these interventions for those with cognitive impairment.
This paper explores responses to changes arising from bodily frailty observed among older people participating in the AKTIVE study and discussed with them during research visits. Focusing on older people living at home with different types of frailty, the AKTIVE project aimed both to enhance understanding of how they (and those supporting them) accessed, engaged with and used the telecare equipment supplied to them, and to explore the consequences for them of doing so. This paper identifies which daily activities were affected in older age and the strategies older people drew upon to cope. The paper also explores how telecare was combined with other support mechanisms to help older people maintain both practical and recreational daily activities. Throughout, there is discussion about limitations in how care support was sometimes provided, including how telecare was acquired and used by older people and/or those caring for or supporting them, and how far these problems might be overcome by more proactive implementation.
JOY Sarah, CORRAL Susana, NZEGWU Femi
An evaluation of the British Red Cross Support at Home services, which provide time-limited care and support to people at a time of crisis who are finding it difficult to cope at home. Overall the research highlighted that the common area of major impact of Support at Home is the enhancement of service users’ quality of life. The support provided is characterised by a strong sense of trust by service users in the Red Cross brand alongside a compassionate, caring, non-judgemental, time-flexible and person-enabling approach. In particular, the findings show that four service user outcomes were significantly improved or increased following receipt of support. These include: improved wellbeing; increased ability to manage daily activities; increase in leisure activities; and improved coping skills. Other positive changes were also reported related to the wider benefits of the service beyond the service user outcomes alone, including enabling safe discharge, supporting carers and enabling patient advocacy. The report identifies a series of action points to help further develop the services: champion Red Cross strengths, respond to the changing profile of service users, develop active partnerships to extend reach and maximise impact, clarify the Red Cross’ position for people in need who fall outside of commissioned contracts, collect consistent and routine local and national data to inform service learning and development, develop signposting to ensure long-term impact and grow skills in order to advocate on behalf of service users.