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Dementia UK and Leeds Building Society to support 2,500 families in joint Closer to Home project

Dementia UK and Leeds Building Society are launching their unique ‘Closer to Home’ project to improve access to dementia care and support.

The project involves a dedicated support centre, or clinic, staffed by the charity’s dementia specialist Admiral Nurses, which will be offered to different communities around the UK over the coming months, allowing more families to access dementia specialist clinics at a time that suits them.

By 2025 it is estimated there will be more than 1 million people living with dementia across the UK. Dementia UK is the only UK charity dedicated to supporting families affected by dementia through dementia specialist Admiral Nurses. When things get challenging or difficult for people with dementia and their families, Admiral Nurses work alongside them; giving compassionate one-to-one support, expert guidance and practical solutions which can be hard to find elsewhere.

At present Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurses provide support across a range of care settings, such as hospitals and care homes and via the charity’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline. The Closer to Home project, supported by Leeds Building Society, will increase the number of families affected by dementia who are able to self-refer to a dementia specialist Admiral Nurse.

The coronavirus pandemic has caused increased stress and isolation for families, with their normal support networks disrupted by lockdowns – all issues which have been reported on Dementia UK’s national Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline, with questions around access to local support featuring as one of the top reasons for calling.

The partnership so far

Leeds Building Society and Dementia UK announced a four-year partnership last year, to raise £500,000 to help over 2,500 families with dementia across the UK.

In its first year the project has already raised £200,000, with members and colleagues doing everything from hula hooping to sponsored walks and making donations.

Money raised so far has also played a huge part in keeping Dementia UK’s Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline running, supporting over 29,000 families in the past 12 months.

The pandemic has meant Dementia UK and Leeds Building Society have had to quickly adapt their plans in line with Covid-19 guidelines to ensure the Closer to Home clinics, originally due to be held in person, could instead be offered online.

Marilyn’s story

Marilyn, an informal carer for her husband David who was diagnosed with vascular dementia, knows the importance of having support closer to home:

“I love being at home with David. It’s a different home now of course, but we have everything in place for him; this includes an indoor wheelchair to allow him to move round the house and a shower room to help with his mobility.

“We’re so grateful to have had the support of our local Admiral Nurse Kerry. With her knowledge of the local health and social care landscapes, Kerry could arrange a care package with physiotherapists to aid David’s mobility, speech therapists to help with his difficulty swallowing, and nutritionists to help David eat. She knows how much home means to us, and all of her support has given me the confidence to continue caring for David in the home we love.”

Thoughts on the Closer to Home project

Richard Fearon, Chief Executive Officer at Leeds Building Society says: “I want to pay tribute to the Society’s members and colleagues who have really gone the extra mile to support this partnership. Raising £200,000 in such challenging times, often while juggling working from home, is a real testament to their dedication.

“The Closer to Home project will make access to Admiral Nurses easier and help to ensure more families across the UK can get the help they need at what has been such a difficult time for so many.

“Events of the past year have reminded us repeatedly about the value of mutual support and co-operation and how we can achieve more by working together.”

Dr. Hilda Hayo, CEO and Chief Admiral Nurse at Dementia UK said: “Dementia is a condition as complex as it is devastating; families urgently need local dementia specialist support at a time when increasing numbers are affected by the condition, and when the fallout of Covid-19 has meant some local support networks have vanished completely.

“This is why we’re so pleased to announce our latest project with our partners at Leeds Building Society. From advice in managing symptoms to support in making the home comfortable for families affected by dementia, we can ensure this support is closer to home for the families who need us.

“Thank you to all staff at Leeds Building Society for supporting us in the launch of the project. We couldn’t have done it without you, and we are looking forward to what we can achieve together.”