British Deaf Association (BDA) Scotland is delighted to announce that the Life Changes Trust has awarded us £149,860 to set up the Transforming the Deaf Dementia Experience project.
This new community interest initiative will support transformational and sustainable improvements in the quality of life and well-being of Deaf people living with dementia and their carers.
The project, funded over three years, will identify and work with Deaf people who have dementia and their carers, enabling them to share and receive information, knowledge and experiences about living with and managing dementia through British Sign Language (BSL).
Avril Hepner, BDA Scotland’s Community Development Manager, says: “This is a wonderful opportunity for Deaf people with dementia and their carers to share experiences through a common language – being in the company of others with similar experiences in a situation where they can communicate freely with is vital for their health and wellbeing.
“For some time I have been concerned about the lack of provision, care and support services for Deaf people living with dementia and their carers. I bring my experiences of caring for Jack, my father, who was Deaf and lived with Alzheimer’s. This project will enable us to develop a toolkit for carers and families with ideas and tips on coping strategies and communication strategies. Diagnosis and provision of dementia support was not accessible for my father. An education programme and BSL dementia friendly training are needed for healthcare professionals in care homes, charities, organisations and dementia friendly communities.”
Central to the project is the development of a BSL Stakeholder Group. The Transforming the Deaf Dementia Experience project will ensure infrastructure is in place to support Deaf people living with dementia and their carers to participate as stakeholders, so that they have a significant influence in the planning, delivery and evaluation of this new initiative. This will help strengthen the BDA’s support in Scotland for Deaf people living with dementia.
This project also aims to explore the Deaf community’s knowledge and understanding of dementia, attitudes towards those with dementia, and thoughts on where they would go for support or information. We hope to reduce stigma and prejudice towards those living with dementia within the Deaf community. This will make it easier for Deaf people with dementia to attend/undertake activities at their local Deaf club or group.
BDA Scotland will also create a dedicated dementia webpage with accessible BSL videos. This will also be used to share reminiscence materials.
This work is supported with funding from the Life Changes Trust. The Life Changes Trust was established by the Big Lottery Fund in April 2013 with a National Lottery grant of £50 million to support transformational improvements in the quality of life, well-being, empowerment and inclusion of two key groups in Scotland: people affected by dementia and care experienced young people. This funding is part of a second phase of Dementia Friendly Communities investment from the Life Changes Trust. The Trust invested £3 million in 14 dementia friendly communities in 2015, the success of which has led to a further investment of £2 million.
Anna Buchanan, Director of the Life Changes Trust dementia programme said, “By funding a diverse range of dementia friendly communities throughout Scotland, we are developing a deeper understanding of how to meet the needs of people with dementia and their families. We are very pleased to be funding this important work. The needs of people who are Deaf and have dementia are quite particular and need specific focus. We believe that the British Deaf Association (BDA) Scotland be able to greatly deepen understanding and develop new ways of meeting these needs."
We will be recruiting an Access & Inclusion (Dementia) Officer shortly. This post will involve setting up information and discussion events and training for Deaf people living with dementia, their carers and the Deaf community across Scotland.
For further information, please contact: Avril Hepner, Community Development Manager Scotland: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone the BDA office on 0141 248 5565.