Dementia reading champion success in Kirklees

Resident taking part in a poetry group, part of the dementia reading champions scheme

Barbara, a resident taking part in a poetry group, part of the Dementia Reading Champions scheme

NHS Greater Huddersfield and NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) alongside Kirklees Council have invested in four local schemes which are delivering a range of reading, poetry and reminiscence sessions to people with dementia and memory loss in care homes, sheltered housing schemes and community settings across Kirklees.

Voluntary and community organisations were invited to submit ideas on how they could support the CCGs and Kirklees Council in improving the health and wellbeing of the local population.  These are some of the schemes that have been selected.

Dr Andrew Cameron, local GP and lead GP for dementia for NHS North Kirklees CCG said: “It’s great to see these passionate community and voluntary groups working together, sharing their local knowledge and expertise to enhance the lives of people living with dementia in Kirklees.”

These projects have been developed in collaboration with the CCGs and Kirklees Council.  Positive outcomes of the sessions include people with dementia being more involved in group activity and interacting better with others during the sessions.   Participants also appear to be less agitated and anxious during and after the sessions.

Cllr Viv Kendrick, Kirklees Council Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care said: “These projects are an excellent example of community support at its best and what can be achieved when we put our heads together to support people living with dementia. Working closely with voluntary and community organisations who provide services, advice and support for people worried about their memory, is a positive step in the right direction as more people are either living with, or caring for someone with dementia”.

These four organisations: Grace’s Place; Yorkshire Children’s Centre; Autism Plus and Volunteering Kirklees have set up a steering group to work collaboratively together to share good practice and avoid duplication.

Other stakeholders such as the libraries team, Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance, Admiral Nurses, Making Space and South West Yorkshire Partnerships NHS Foundation Trust are also involved in this group.  The four organisations recruit and train volunteers by sharing resources and delivering joint volunteer training sessions.  It is intended that the project will be expanded and delivered to more care homes and community groups in Kirklees and funding has been agreed to continue the project for a further year.

In addition, the Side by Side Memory Project, with groups meeting in Kirkheaton and Meltham, also provides activities for people with mild to moderate memory loss to help them maintain cognitive, social and communication skills and enhance their wellbeing.  The project involves a variety of activities which are designed to encourage communication, listening and comprehension and to provide opportunities for reminiscence.

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