This report published by the Health Innovation Network South London, the Academic Health Science Network for South London, outlines the findings of a study which demonstrated that the positive social value of peer support groups for people with dementia, their carers and volunteers can be far greater than the investment.
The Alzheimer’s Society report ‘Dementia 2013: The hidden voice of loneliness’ showed that more than a third of people with dementia feel lonely and 62% of those who live alone report feeling lonely. Findings from this latest study demonstrate that peer support groups, or having the opportunity to meet others regularly, can help people with dementia feel less lonely and less isolated and are a valuable intervention. Dementia peer support groups also offer carers respite by providing some time for themselves, and the opportunity to meet other carers.
Three dementia peer support groups from three boroughs in South London were evaluated using social return on investment (SROI) methodology. SROI is based on cost-benefit analysis but with particular emphasis on identifying the value experienced by people involved in an activity, which for this study was people with dementia, their carers and volunteers who support running of the groups.
Analysis showed that the three groups in Southwark, Lambeth and Croydon create positive social value for people with dementia, carers and volunteers that is greater than the cost of investment. For every pound (£) of investment, the social value created by the three groups ranged from £1.17 to £5.18.
The study found the benefits of attending peer support groups are:
- reduced isolation and loneliness through meeting others in a similar situation
- increased stimulation, including mental stimulation
- increased wellbeing
- for carers, a reduction in stress and carer burden.