Seven new dementia services to run in Leigh

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SEVEN new dementia services will soon be up and running in Leigh, thanks to the votes of Leigh residents.

The projects were selected after pitching their services at a Dragons’ Den style event in Leigh earlier this year and receiving the most votes from the public. The initiative is led by Wigan Council and is the third dementia friendly community to launch in the borough. Innovative projects in Hindley and Scholes are already successfully delivering services to people living with dementia, their families and carers.

The outright winner with the most votes at the Leigh Dragons’ Den event was the Contented Dementia Workshops and Film project, run by Maureen O’Bern and Anthony Hill for WLCT at Leigh library. The sessions will feature award-winning specially produced films which have been designed to trigger memories, along with interactive workshops also designed to stimulate reminiscence and conversation between people with dementia and their families and carers.

Maureen O’Bern said: “We’re combining films with the workshops and music so it will be really interactive. I’ve run similar sessions before and it’s amazing what memories can be triggered and how much families can find out about their loved one that they never knew. It’s a great shared experience and is valuable for the whole family.”

Cadence Classic Cinema Club (reminiscence through film) and Sensoriel CIC (mobile multi-sensory sessions for people with dementia) were equally popular, coming joint second.

Sensoriel’s multi-sensory stimulation is the use of equipment to stimulate the senses such as touch, sight, hearing and smell. Equipment including bubble tubes, fibre optics, sensory projectors and aromatherapy products can provide a calming but stimulating environment in a darkened space. The sessions are tailored to the individual so are suitable for people at any stage of dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Sensoriel was founded by Amy Cotter who has already been delivering sessions in the borough as part of the Scholes area DFC. She said: “To be voted for was a wonderful feeling as it showed how others saw the need and benefits for the service I provide. The idea developed as my husband’s gran had dementia and her care home wanted to provide sensory sessions but couldn’t afford the equipment. We then read research into the benefits and formulated the service.”

Ian Jackson from the Cadence Classic Cinema Club said: “We have previously used film and music with people with disabilities to stimulate memories and create fun sessions, and we are confident this will also benefit people with dementia – and their carers if they wish to attend too. We are thrilled that people believed in us and the service we’ll provide and voted for us. It makes me feel proud.”

For the first time with the borough’s dementia friendly community initiatives, the votes led to a joint second place. This has enabled the money to be shared more widely and, in total, the seven projects which received the most votes from the community have received funding towards delivering their service. The projects have been funded by Wigan Council through public health money.

Wigan Council assistant director of adult early intervention and prevention, Liv Bickerstaff, said: “The people of Leigh have really got behind the work we are doing and it’s their support which will help to sustain these projects. This is our third dementia friendly community (DFC) initiative in the borough, and the biggest. We’re drawing on our experience from our DFC work in Hindley and Scholes to get the projects up and running, and equipping the people involved with the skills to take them forward and develop them.

“As people continue to live longer, dementia will become one of the biggest health and social care challenges this country will face. As a council, with responsibility for public health, we are keen to lead on addressing this challenge locally, but we need communities to look at what they need and what they can deliver in their area to really make this work.”

A similar project piloted by Wigan Council in the Hindley area of Wigan in 2013 and funded by the NHS Innovation Fund has been applauded by the Alzheimer’s Society. In its report on dementia friendly communities, in partnership Dementia Action Alliance, the Dementia Friendly Hindley project was highlighted as a model of good practice for ‘developing a strong voice for people living with dementia in the local community’.