Worcestershire is to become the first county in the UK to offer access to specialist dementia Meeting Centres to all its residents.
The county will be at the forefront of this new way of supporting those living with the condition and their families.
Working with the University of Worcester’s Association for Dementia Studies, which first brought the Meeting Centres concept to the UK, Worcestershire County Council and the six district councils of Worcestershire are investing £540,000 to help local communities across the county to set up Meeting Centres.
This investment is being funded from the County’s 75% Business Rates pilot, which has meant more money from business rates gathered in Worcestershire in the past year has remained in the County.
Working together with Worcestershire's six district councils, the County Council pledged to invest the extra funds from the pilot into services which prevent or reduce the cost of social care.
Meeting Centres provide local community support to people and families directly affected by dementia. At the heart of every Meeting Centre is a social club where people can meet to have fun, talk to others, and get the help and support they need.
Meeting Centres were originally developed in the Netherlands. The University team was part of a large European research programme to evaluate this innovation in the UK, Italy and Poland. As part of this the Association for Dementia Studies piloted two centres – in Droitwich Spa and Leominster.
The research showed that Meeting Centres significantly improve self-esteem, levels of happiness, and a sense of belonging, as well as reducing some of the most distressing symptoms of dementia. They provide an invaluable source of support for family carers.
In 2018, the National Community Fund committed a grant of £587,601 to help scale up the development of Meeting Centres across the UK.
Councillor Adrian Hardman, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “This announcement is momentous for Worcestershire and our long-term plan for Adult Social Care. Enabling vulnerable people to live as independently and safely for as long as possible with the support of their families, friends and communities is something that all of the local authorities of Worcestershire are really passionate about. These Meeting Centres are a great way of supporting those with dementia to have the best quality of life.”
Last month, the University of Worcester won the Times Higher Education Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Local Community based on the work of its Association for Dementia Studies to develop Meeting Centres.
Professor Dawn Brooker, Director of the Association for Dementia Studies, who won a Lifetime Achievement Award earlier this year for her commitment to helping people living with dementia, said: “We are delighted that Worcestershire County Council and the six district councils within the county has committed this funding to create further meeting centres in the county, building on the success of our initial pilot centre in Droitwich Spa. This will make Worcestershire the first local authority in the country to support equitable funding for all its citizens with regards to provision for this vital community support.
“We believe that Worcestershire could be a real game changer. If we can make this a successful model here then why shouldn’t other local authorities follow suit?”
For those organisations and people who are interested in finding out more, there will be an information session on February 10th 2020 at the University of Worcester Arena.
To book a free place email firstname.lastname@example.org