Lancashire has around 17,600 people with dementia aged 65 and over.
These numbers are expected to rise to more than 25,600 by 2025. In Lancaster alone, there were 1,823 people with dementia in 2010, predicted to rise by 42% by 2025.
The Dukes Theatre has been working with Age UK Lancashire on a pioneering project to give hundreds of people living with dementia a better life. The project called A Life More Ordinary was piloted over the past 18 months and such was its success that it has now received funding of more than £200,000 to carry on over the next three years.
The idea is simple – to give people living with dementia more choice, more control and greater access to leisure and cultural opportunities at The Dukes in Lancaster and further afield.
The new three-year programme was launched in June. It is ground-breaking stuff and will include the setting up of a dementia theatre group and sessions encouraging dance/movement and reminiscence, culminating with a major conference in 2018 where examples of good practice will be passed on to other arts organisations.
Powerful evidence of a demand for such a project was shown by a three-year Age UK Lancashire project – Linking Communities – which revealed older people with dementia and family members wanted to continue relationships but found it almost impossible to join in the sort of activities enjoyed by the public. Despite some offers of support, most people felt on their own and helpless.
Another important finding was the significance of creating an ‘ordinary’ environment and experience for those with dementia and their carers; hence the title of the programme.
A Life More Ordinary will be managed by The Dukes, Age UK Lancashire and The Centre for Ageing Research at Lancaster University. It will be funded by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation, The Rayne Foundation, Film Hub North West Central, The Dowager Countess Eleanor Peel Trust and The Elspeth J Thompson Charitable Trust.
The Dukes itself is funded by a range of public bides and I would say all of this is a good investment for all of us.