A North East based social enterprise has secured funding to pilot a new innovative service to delay the onset of dementia.
Unforgettable Experiences will provide creative, interactive and practical support to older people to help them to participate in a series of weekly arts, cultural and heritage activities online.
The service will give older people who have been diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment or mild to moderate dementia the opportunity to keep their minds active. Participants will be taught how to get online so they are able to take part in art, music, dance, performing arts, history, photography and many others. By stimulating cognition and brain plasticity, Unforgettable Experiences aim to delay the onset of dementia whilst helping participants to remain independent, active, socially connected and delay their need for care. The company will also provide technology for older people to use if they do not have access to a mobile phone, tablet or computer.
Unforgettable Experiences is one of nine companies that were awarded £50,000 out of 1600 applicants to Innovate UK as part of a national call for business-led innovation in response to new and urgent needs in the UK and global communities during and following the Covid-19 pandemic.
It is estimated that dementia costs the UK approximately £26.3bn per year. The pandemic has placed significant strain on older people with dementia and their carers with many older generations feeling socially isolated as a result of them struggling to connect with their families, friends and loved ones. The project will benefit older people living in lower-socio economic areas and areas of deprivation facing significant health inequalities in the immediate and longer-term.
Victoria Burnip, Chief Executive Officer, Unforgettable Experiences, said: “We’re thrilled to have been awarded funding from Innovate UK. We’re keen to evidence how this type of support could be delivered online to support a large number of older people across the UK and encourage collaboration between arts, health and social care sectors, which have also been heavily impacted by Covid-19.
I would like to thank practitioners based in NHS Tees Esk and Wear Valley and Darlington Borough Council for their unwavering support so far and would like to encourage individuals to get in touch if they or someone they know could benefit from taking part.
As a result of funding received from Innovate UK, Unforgettable Experiences has been able to employ four part-time staff to deliver the project. So far, the team have built strong relationships with the NHS, Adult Social Care, Memory Clinic, Alzheimer’s Society, Mind, and other voluntary and community sector organisations. The National Centre for Innovation and Ageing (NCIA) have agreed to provide qualified academics to independently evaluate the service and evidence the wider social impacts.”
If you or someone you know has dementia and would like to take part then please call 01325 238 007 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, you can visit www.unforgettableexperiences.org.uk