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Royal Voluntary Service blog
Find out about the people behind Royal Voluntary Service in our series of guest stories from our volunteers, staff and partners.

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Our biggest commitment yet to supporting those living with dementia

Dr Allison Smith Dementia is becoming increasingly prevalent in our society, with more and more people affected each year. As an organisation that supports older people to stay healthy and happy, and which helps the NHS, Royal Voluntary Service has a duty to provide the best possible support to enable all older adults to live well whatever their condition.

That’s why this year - our 80th anniversary year - we are making our biggest commitment yet to supporting those living with dementia. We’re doing this by launching a series of new dementia training videos for our staff and 20,000 volunteers who deliver a range of services and social activities in hospital, at home and in the community.

Royal Voluntary Service staff and volunteers already receive thorough and rigorous training, but to deepen our knowledge and critical understanding of dementia, we’ve joined forces with an award-winning and truly inspirational charity, Dementia Adventure. Dementia Adventure is a forward-thinking, innovative organisation that helps people live well with dementia by thinking differently about the condition and connecting them to the outdoors and their community.

Thanks to support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, we’ve worked together to develop a set of inspirational video tutorials that will equip our staff and volunteers with practical, specialist skills to help those with dementia to live well and get the most out of our services and activities. The videos uniquely include the voices and experiences of those living with dementia.

We know that anxiety and fear of stigma mean that people with dementia sometimes disengage from social activities and their local community. By equipping our staff and volunteers with rich knowledge about ‘what dementia is’, ‘what it is like to live with dementia’ and ‘how we can better communicate with those living with dementia to improve their wellbeing’, we hope that more people with dementia will feel confident and comfortable interacting with Royal Voluntary Service – for instance, by coming along to a local social event or club or to return to an activity or hobby that they enjoyed prior to diagnosis. At the same time, commissioners of hospital, social care or community services can be assured that we have an effective combination of practical and communication skills to support those living with dementia to live well.

There are many misperceptions and myths about dementia, the greatest being that people with dementia are unable to participate fully in life, including enjoying an active social life. We don’t subscribe to that and our highly trained staff and volunteers will be working hard to break down those barriers.

Posted by Dr Allison Smith, Head of Strategy and Development at 13:00 Wednesday, 27 June 2018.

Labels: Dementia

“I make a huge difference with just 1 hour a week!”

BeckyMeet Becky who lives in London and helps local older people to become more active. She’s making friends, helping emergency services and empowering older people – all with just one hour a week!

“I began volunteering for Royal Voluntary Service after seeing an advert in the local paper. They were looking for volunteers for 1 hour a week to help the local ambulance service through the Active Ageing Programme. There were no strings attached; 1 hour of my week doing gentle exercises with older people in my area and I could help reduce the number of 999 call outs for the ambulance service.

“I hadn’t really thought about the kinds of people I would meet but I knew it would relieve the strain on the emergency services by reducing the number of calls they were receiving. The first person that I met was Anna, who was 96 and housebound. She was not what I was expecting! She is bubbly, chatty, full of knowledge and interesting stories from her past and really keen to be on the programme. She finds it difficult to get out and about because of physical ailments but was craving a social life outside of her home.

“I worked with Anna for six weeks to complete set a routine of gentle exercises. Anna decided to continue to the daily exercises to strengthen her muscles. She felt they could help her to become more mobile and confident when standing and walking with a goal of getting out the house and meeting others. 

“We struck up a friendship while exercising in the hour that we spent together and chatting away throughout the sessions. It was a pleasure to be able to spend time helping someone in need to become more active. It was great to be an ear to listen and to motivate and cheer someone up.

“I am so glad I made the call to volunteer. I feel I am helping the local emergency services, helping older people to be more mobile and sociable. All of this gives me a sense of pride that I am helping my community – just by giving 1 hour of my week.”

Becky volunteers with our pilot Supporting you at Home service which currently runs in Hackney and Merton in London in partnership with the London Ambulance Service. London Ambulance Service refer those who are at risk of isolation or falls and Royal Voluntary Service pair individuals with a volunteer to provide a bespoke, six week exercise program in their homes. The service aims to improve physical wellbeing, alleviate loneliness and reduce the number of 999 calls in the area.

Posted by at 00:00 Thursday, 14 June 2018.