Background The role of hospices in helping people live well with dementia is now clearly recognised (Hospice UK, 2015). Extending care into the community is a key method to build the important relationship between people with dementia, carers and hospice services. Based on this we developed a volunteer-led Community Dementia Companion Service to support service users, build carer resilience and forge their relationship with our hospice to meet future needs.
Aim(s) To develop, deliver and evaluate a Community Dementia Companion (CDC) Service led by hospice volunteers which increases social opportunities for service users and breaks for carers. To measure the service’s impact on service user and carer well-being, develop a training and supervision regime for volunteers and establish sustainable service delivery.
Methods Literature and guidance on volunteering in palliative and dementia care were reviewed, national and local hospice strategic priorities informed service development as did service user and carer feedback. As a result a long term dementia companionship model using a volunteer workforce was developed which is now being trialled.
Results The CDC service is now operational and the first cohort of nine service users are starting to receive companion visits – early feedback on the service, and volunteer support model, is favourable.
Volunteer feedback: ‘I look forward to my visits, being a friend to my person with dementia and giving the carer some ‘me time’.
Service user feedback: ‘I enjoy my walks’
Carer feedback: ‘A wonderful experience for Alan and I and extremely valuable as it’s ongoing, not time limited.’
Conclusions Although in its early stages the CDC example of innovation in hospice-enabled dementia care has potential to improve the lives of those with dementia and their carers, use volunteers well and increase familiarity with and timely use of other hospice services. CDC Service development funded by East Cheshire Council.
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