Circles of Support for people with dementia in North Hampshire

ContactNicola Decker, Clinical Lead for Dementia, NHS North Hampshire CCG
Telephone01256 770212
AddressCentral 40, Lime Tree way, Chineham Business Park, Basingstoke, RG24 8GU

This project aims to implement a training and mentoring package on developing Circles of Support for people with dementia to complement the development of the new Dementia Advisor Services that are starting in Hampshire in October 2012.

The aim of Circles of Support is to reduce the need for paid support and promote social inclusion and feelings of connectedness to communities. People with and without disabilities use natural supports as a strategy to reduce stress, seek advice, and feel connected to others.

People with dementia often talk about how their networks of support shrink or disappear as their journey with dementia progresses. Often the responsibilities of caring sit largely with one particular member of a family or social network. Circles of Support involves considering how such responsibilities could be shared across a network of people. In addition, some people with dementia have no family links, little other support and are extremely isolated. The Circle of Support is established to help the person with dementia achieve their priorities and meet their needs in a personalised way, for example, support to continue being part of a local gardening group instead of attending a day centre. This approach ensures there are contingencies in place so that problems can be shared and resolved as they arise, preventing crisis and unplanned use of statutory services, often away from the person’s home/ community environment.

Funded by the Department of Health, the National Development Team for Inclusion have been developing Circles of Support as an innovative approach for supporting people with dementia and their carers by enhancing existing, or developing new, naturally occurring support networks. For this project, they will offer a training package and toolkit to introduce the techniques involved in developing Circles of Support and also offer mentoring to support the implementation of the approach. The package will be delivered over a 12 month period starting in March 2013.

The National Development Team for Inclusion are using the learning from developing Circles of Support in the disability field (particularly learning disability) and applying this to supporting people with dementia in the community. The Hampshire project is new to Hampshire and would build on and draw from the National Development Team for Inclusion’s work elsewhere.

This project would address three of the priority areas for the Dementia Challenge Fund:

  • Dementia friendly communities;
  • Community based care; and
  • Carers.

Anticipated outcomes

People with dementia will:

  • lead the lives they want to lead and be in the driving seat of key decisions about their support, which is designed around them
  • have a sense of belonging and being valued
  • have increased/ongoing contact with and involvement in personal and community networks
  • have better health, and
  • have peace of mind about how their support needs will be met.

Carers will:

  • benefit from the support provided, allowing them to work closely with the person with dementia and understand their needs and wishes
  • be recognised and supported as an expert care partner
  • better understand the support they are giving, and
  • have a network of support and a safe place to discuss their own hopes and fears.

70 Dementia Advisors and Dementia Advisor volunteers will:

  • benefit from increased knowledge (about dementia as well as person centred approaches) that can be used on an everyday or weekly basis to support neighbours, friends and family members; confidence, skills, self esteem and wellbeing.

Broader strategic outcomes include:

  • increased public understanding of dementias
  • reduced need for paid support and promoting social inclusion and feelings of connectedness to communities, and
  • better crisis prevention and reduction in the unplanned use of statutory services.

Progress update

Circles of support is being offered through the Dementia Advisors and enabling people with Dementia to achieve their priorities and meet their needs in a personalised way. This project is being rolled out across Hampshire. See Circles of Support for people with dementia in Hampshire