Dementia sufferers to use Skype as part of £300,000 Westminster centre

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By poppy_smith | Saturday, September 01, 2012, 21:46

Speaking to relatives on Skype is just one of the innovative ways a new dementia day resource centre is seeking to help people with dementia manage their condition.

Opening in November later this year, the £300,000 centre on Westbourne Park Road will be one of the first centres in London to consider using web chat technology in helping people to live well with dementia.

Under the plans, older people with dementia could be helped to connect with their friends and relatives over Skype to help stimulate familiar memories, in addition to physical activities such as gardening, cookery lessons, T'ai Chi and music, which have been proven to help older people with dementia conditions by remaining active and healthy and stimulated.

As well as providing dedicated day care facilities for existing dementia service users, specific support will be available for people diagnosed more recently, who are coming to terms with their condition and need practical advice about the changes expected for themselves and their carers to help them plan for the future. The resource centre will be open seven days a week.

The new centre is custom designed based on advice from Stirling University's specialist dementia design team, and features non-reflective surfaces, neutral colours and even flooring without raised thresholds. Areas such as bathrooms will feature specially chosen fittings to make the user feel at home, rather than at a clinic or hospital.

Over 230 older people were newly diagnosed with dementia in Westminster last year.

Cllr Rachael Robathan, Cabinet Member for Adults Services and Health at Westminster City Council said: "Dementia is widely acknowledged to be one of the most pressing problems currently facing the UK, with the number of people diagnosed with the disease standing at more than 800,000. As the needs of older people change and grow, local authorities need to play an active role in finding innovative ways to tackle the condition and deliver appropriate care.

"Here in Westminster we are determined to incorporate the best ideas into our services and I believe the new centre on Westbourne Park Road represents that. The centre will bring together dedicated care services in a brand new building designed with care at its heart."

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