Dementia friendly community in Somerset

ContactAlison Rowswell, Programme Manager, Somerset CCG
Telephone01935 384060
AddressWynford House, Lufton Way, Yeovil, Somerset, BA22 8HR

This project aims to make Somerset a dementia friendly place in which people with dementia are valued, befriended and encouraged to live independently and engage in everyday activity.

This project will recruit an Awareness Raiser Worker to work with organisations and individuals across the community to improve awareness, education and training to develop local networks to improve awareness of dementia. This will involve local businesses, supermarkets, schools, local community forums to create an environment where people with dementia and their carers are a valued part of the community. This will support people with dementia and their carers and help to reduce stigma, providing a much more cohesive community. This builds on the successful work that has already been undertaken within Somerset.

This project has four key components:

  • developing local networks to improve awareness of dementia
  • implementing a befriending scheme that offers a vital lifeline and opportunities for people to continue to engage in local activities with trusted support
  • building on existing training programmes so  people receive personalised care enabling them to make positive choices
  • improving the hospital experience for people with dementia and their carers

We will be working with the Alzheimer’s Society to help instigate the development of Dementia Action Alliances (DAA) and the staff employed will be encouraging local businesses etc to sign up to the DAA pledge that contains identified actions, forming a network that would become self supporting in the long term. Staff would be able to disseminate the toolkit currently being created by the Alzheimer’s Society to support the development of DAAs and help businesses to implement ways in which they may be able to support people affected by dementia (including raising awareness amongst staff).

A befriending scheme will be introduced into the community ensuring people with dementia are not isolated and receive the support that is required. Befriending can provide a social contact that is able to consider the person as a whole rather than principally as a person with dementia and provides a relationship for people with dementia in addition to formal support. Befrienders can re-involve individuals in the community and visit if they are admitted to hospital, providing continuity.

This project will provide befriending in the general community and within acute and community hospitals. The scheme would initiate, support and monitor relationships between a befriender and a carefully matched client. The aim would be to offer companionship and support, not a care service. A Befriending Coordinator would recruit and induct the volunteers and be responsible for the delivery of a high quality befriending service.

Using the model and the learning from Sedgemoor Ward, this project will redesign one of the trauma and orthopaedic wards at Musgrove Park Hospital initially focussing on the fracture neck of femur pathway to make it dementia friendly so that this can then be spread into other ward environments as a large majority of people admitted to the acute trust have dementia or cognitive problems.

This project will continue to implement the learning gained from the Enhancing the Healing Environment for people with dementia programme that Musgrove Park Hospital undertook in 2011 where the environment on an acute elderly care medical ward (Sedgemoor Ward) was transformed. This will help to create ward environments that are dementia friendly, warm, safe, encourages mobility and socialisation.

This project will promote a ‘home at hospital’ approach to dementia care through the provision of an accelerated care pathway that is timely and prevents deterioration and inappropriate admissions for patients with dementia and memory associated problems.  This would be accessed via  the Queensway Day Hospital at Yeovil District Hospital which would act at the hub within the hospital and promotes ambulatory care within a supportive environment.


  • Improve diagnosis rates
  • Increase public understanding of memory loss and dementia
  • Provide support and guidance to people with concerns about their memory and signpost where appropriate
  • Raise staff awareness of the referral process, including availability of local services and other benefits
  • Enable people with dementia to remain as independent as long as  possible within their local communities
  • Reduce stigma and social isolation
  • Support all organisations involved to access training and awareness raising workshops for staff members
  • Create a dementia friendly community in a GP Federation area and learn from this experience to spread to other GP Federations
  • Provide a positive hospital experience for people with dementia and their carers

By Enhancing the Environment the specific aims for the acute hospital are:

  • Adopt and adapt what is proven to work to enhance the environment on a
    trauma orthopaedic ward to improve the outcome and quality of care for people with dementia who are admitted with a fracture neck of femur
  • Reduce the use of antipsychotic medication for this group of patients
  • Reduce harm to patients whilst in acute hospital eg reduce falls, pressure sores
  • Reduce length of stay
  • Increase patient and carer satisfaction with their experience of being in hospital
  • Enable and encourage early rehabilitation and mobilization
  • Identify and treat delirium post surgery

Anticipated outcomes

  • People who are worried about their memory are encouraged to present earlier to their GP and will receive a timely diagnosis to enable them to plan their lives accordingly and receive much needed support
  • Improved understanding of memory loss and dementia in the community
  • Awareness of services and facilities that are available in the community including the Somerset Dementia Adviser Service and other community services ie memory cafes etc
  • Access to a befriender in the community
  • Improved hospital experience
  • Reduction in emergency hospital admissions as professionals are better informed of other services available to avoid hospital admission
  • By enhancing the environment and changing nursing practice, people with dementia who have a fracture neck of femur will have an enhanced inpatient admission with a shorter length of stay, be cared for in an environment that is friendly, calm and warm which encourages mobility and early rehabilitation

Progress update

The project is progressing well with dementia action alliance steering groups established in 3 towns within the project area. Befriending volunteers have been recruited and training commenced. Dementia training taking place across a wide range of organisations within the public and private sector. Work taking place within the acute trusts to improve the hospital environment and education for staff.