In the UK, one person develops dementia every three minutes and it is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. Many people are left to face the disease alone, but Hanover is playing its part by providing support both financially and emotionally.
A 2014 report by Alzheimer’s Society predicted that the number of people with dementia in the UK could reach over 1 million by 2025. Not only does this come at a tragic personal cost, but it also comes at a financial cost of £26.3 billion a year – enough to pay the energy bill of every household in the UK.
While factors such as ageing and genetics can play a part in the level of risk in developing dementia, other factors lie within our control. These include physical inactivity, smoking, unhealthy diet, excessive alcohol consumption, and head injuries commonly associated with certain sports. But the fact is, for some, this knowledge comes too late and it’s those people Hanover is looking to help.
While Hanover is not a dementia care provider, we know we must do all we can to support residents and others with dementia. Here are some of the ways we’ve thrown ourselves into the task over the past two years:
The Orchards in Brandon, County Durham, worked closely with Alzheimer’s Society to set up an ongoing memory cafe. Dementia Adviser Jude Hedley said: ‘The idea of these sessions is to offer those with dementia the opportunity to reminisce and to socialise with others. The team from Hanover were very supportive and really understood the principles behind the project.’ The sessions help engage all guests in a gentle way, with one memory leading to another, so no one feels isolated and everyone can play a part.
Our Dementia Connect team took part by asking residents, staff, friends, families and communities to knit or crochet forget-me-nots. They were then sold at £1 per flower to raise funds for Alzheimer's Society and Dementia Action Alliance.
Special mention must go to the residents of Pineapple Place, Kings Heath, who ran various events to raise a grand total of £1,110.90, and Reynolds Court, Ross-on-Wye who raised over £500 by making over 400 forget-me-nots, holding an afternoon tea event, plus a table sale and an auction.
This joint initiative with the Design Council created 'Dementia Leads’ around Hanover, provided more targeted support for residents, and gave staff enhanced training. As an ongoing project it is improving the way we work, the connections we make and the services we provide to help residents with dementia live well at Hanover.
These Hanover staff volunteered to provide a greater focus on dementia, for instance, by encouraging others to become Dementia Friends, and keeping up to date with national and local dementia initiatives to share information and ideas.
As part of the steering group of the HDRC, we research how to influence policy and practice in Housing with Care and other forms of accommodation, as well as how to care for people living with dementia.
In 2015 Hanover staff took part in making ‘memory bunting’, displaying a favourite memory. The bunting was strung together, making a striking display of how memories can be a great source of comfort and happiness.
Also in 2015, staff at Blaise Weston Court in Bristol worked with Bristol University on their ‘Tangible Memories’ project. Older residents were helped to use a digital app to recreate their life stories. They created amazing books and transformed the room in which they were working into a memory parlour.
When some staff on Hanover estates heard about the benefits of Twiddlemuffs in helping people with dementia, other staff and residents were keen to start knitting them. They knitted or crocheted hundreds of the woollen handmuffs and decorated them with ribbons, buttons, beads and zips, providing simple stimulation for the hands and minds of those with dementia.