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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

How making health changes could help people avoid Dementia and ill health

As we grow older, many of us become concerned about developing dementia. Especially if we have cared for a parent, relative or friend with dementia, we want to feel like we have the power to change our own fate.

Recent guidance published by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence suggests that there are ways in which dementia might be prevented or delayed by choices we make in our mid-life (40-70’s).

There is no question that leading a healthy lifestyle in your mid-life will have a positive impact on your later years, but the ageing process is not fixed. Some people will experience dementia in their 50’s and others won’t be affected until their 90’s. It’s vital to maintain moderate physical activity and cognitive stimulation on a regular basis to delay frailty, whatever your age.

Volunteering is a great way of staying physically and mentally active post retirement. Many of our volunteers tell us that they have been given a new lease of life, as well as a sense of purpose at time when their social roles are changing.

Social and mental stimulation not only has positive impact on our volunteers but also for the older people they are caring for. Conversation or social stimulation for an older person, who maybe only has one visitor a week, can have a huge impact on their morale and mental wellbeing. And for those living with dementia, our volunteers can provide a break to their partner or family member so they can have some time to themselves for a short while.

As dementia remains high on the health agenda, Royal Voluntary Service is looking at ways in which we can better support those living with dementia and their carers. Alongside our work providing on-ward support for patients with dementia and home support services, we are going to be trialing a new dementia service in Oxfordshire and elsewhere which offer activities that are focused on cognitive and physical stimulation. Together we want to improve the well-being of those living with dementia and their carers.

Volunteering is a great place to start. To find out more about opportunities in your area visit our volunteering section.

Posted by Dr Allison Smith, Head of Strategy and Development, Royal Voluntary Service at 00:00 Monday, 30 November 2015.

Labels: Dementia