People recently diagnosed with dementia can access advice and activities alongside their carers at a new support centre, officially opened by the Mayor of Northampton.
UnityDEM is co-run by the University of Northampton and located in Northampton Central Library. It differs from other centres in the country by helping those with dementia and their carers together – under one roof.
By coming to UnityDEM, Northampton residents with dementia and their carers will receive specialised care, information, training and socialising opportunities to help them feel less isolated and to cope better with having the condition.
The activities and support on offer will be free for all members who attend and include:
- Cognitive Stimulation Therapies (themed activity sessions over the year designed to improve the mental abilities and memory of someone living with dementia)
- Sport and dance activities such as boules, Thai Chi and arm-chair aerobics
- Craft and creative activities including painting, gardening and crafts.
The centre will be run by University experts, including the dementia projects lead Professor Jackie Parkes, Senior Lecturer in Occupational Therapy Mary Burton, psychologist Dr Jane Youell.
UnityDEM is being piloted for the next 12 months and will shadow service users to measure the effectiveness of the advice, guidance and well-being activities provided.
After the pilot has concluded, the centre’s impact will be evaluated by the University, with the view to establishing UnityDEM as a permanent presence in the town.
Professor Parkes said: “Dementia is a life-changing condition. When a person is diagnosed the effects, whether losing a job or not being able to drive, can be profound on them and their family and friends.
“Most people continue to live well at home given the right support and access to community activities. Crucially however, some do not. With UnityDEM, a first of its kind service that will support those with dementia and their nearest and dearest, we are addressing this gap”
Funding to deliver UnityDEM came from the University of Northampton and its Changemaker initiative. Changemaker focuses on supporting staff, students and members of the community to find solutions to environmental or social problems that will improve people’s lives, such as making Northamptonshire more ‘dementia friendly’, and supporting people affected by dementia to cope with a diagnosis and remain valued members of their communities.
This includes annual ‘Memory Days’ to inform people about the work being undertaken by the University and partner organisations, leading a recent conference about innovations in dementia care, developing a county-wide dementia preparedness strategy and support and leading on dementia research studies.
The centre is open Mondays, Wednesday and Fridays 10.00am- 3.00pm to people living in Northampton.
For more information about UnityDEM and for a referral to the centre, please email: Hazel.Johnston@firstforwellbeing.co.uk