The Journey So Far
Before the creation of Essex Dementia Care there were relatively few Essex based community resources available for those dealing with early onset dementia.
Whilst a few care homes and day centres existed for those in their 70s there was nothing suitable for those in their 50s and 60s, who were capable of maintaining an active and fulfilling lifestyle with the proper support. We discovered frustration amongst younger families living with dementia regarding the absence of specialist facilities in the area. Similarly, many older people with dementia felt unsatisfied with the conventional day and residential services that were on offer. In 2006, we established a forum for dialogue between some of these families and senior representatives of adult social care at Essex County Council. ECC listened and took action where they could, but clearly a new alternative was needed and so the vision for an independent community resource was born.
In 2007, Essex Dementia Care registered with the Quality Commission and began to develop a service which had the potential to meet the needs of both younger and older people with dementia. However, it soon became apparent that a service founded upon principles of reablement, therapy and individualised, person-centred support was costly. It would be necessary to find another source of funding if the quality of the service was to remain high without an increase in costs for the service user. As such EDC registered as a charity with the Charities Commission in 2009, giving us access to new funding streams that helped us to vastly improve our service, helping more people than ever before. 2009 also saw the publication of the National Dementia Strategy, which challenged the statutory sector to prioritise the development of services to dementia care. We are indebted to Essex County Council for its consistent financial support since that time.
Essex Dementia Care’s one-to-one approach was, and remains, the central aspect of the services we provide, enabling us to ensure a response uniquely tailored to the needs of each individual family. But as we helped more and more families, we became increasingly aware of the benefits of mutual support in a social setting, and so in 2010 we set up our first activity centre for people with dementia and their carers in Braintree. Seven years later, with some changes on the way, we run 4 activity centres days in Braintree, 1 day in Chelmsford and 1 day in Broomfield, between them providing a programme of activities to meet different levels of skill and mobility.
It was appropriate to close the activity centre service in SE Essex but we continue to provide One2one services there and are always alert to the possibility of expanding the activity centre service where there is sufficient demand.
From modest beginnings, we have developed our twin service strands of One2one and activity centres, recording a total of over 2,000 hours of services in January 2017.
Whilst Essex Dementia Care continues to go from strength to strength we are still reliant on the kindness of others. Any assistance is greatly appreciated. You really can make a difference, either financially or by volunteering your own personal gifts and skills.