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Rutherglen Early Diagnosis Dementia Support Group

Project Title :- Rutherglen Early Diagnosis Support Group


Start date / end date (if pilot study)


1999- present

Organisation  - (Health / Social Work / Voluntary Organisation / Private Sector)


Rutherglen Community Carers & Eastvale Resource Centre



Setting up the project


Why the project was set up?


The group was started because CPNs at Eastvale became aware that people with dementia were being diagnosed at an earlier stage in their illness (possibly due to the inception of cognitive enhancers for Alzheimer’s disease) and they often felt isolated and in need of support. It was also noticed that there was a major gap in services, as some people were at a stage where they were giving up previous activities, due to lack of confidence, but not at the stage that they might require day care. The NTL and Community Carers’ manager therefore decided to start a support group. Initially it was to last for six sessions, however, group members bonded and wanted the group to continue to meet socially.



What are the aims and objectives?


  • Promotes social contact
  • To give information about dementia
  • Allows group members to support each other informally
  • Allows group members to discuss issues and receive support from staff
  • Something to look forward to ( planning meeting)
  • (opens door for carers’ support)





Who was involved in setting it up?


The group is a joint venture between Eastvale Resource Centre (NHS) and Rutherglen Community Carers (voluntary sector)

What were the main challenges?


One of the main challenges was to fund the continuation/social group However, it successfully received lottery funding in 2001 for three years and Lloyds TSB funding in 2004 for a further three years (approx £9000 per year). It is now partly funded by the social work department and voluntary donations.



Description of project  (No more than 500 words)


Rutherglen Dementia Support Group provides an eight week semi structured educational programme for people recently diagnosed with dementia, and thereafter the group continues to meet socially.




Introductory Group


With regards to the introductory group, rather than focus on the specific diagnosis of dementia, themes are designed to promote and facilitate discussions, and can include coping with dementia, reminiscence, legal issues, music therapy, relaxation techniques, social therapy and legal issues, with alternative sessions provided according to the wishes of the members. In addition to its educational component, the support group allows people with dementia to communicate with others with similar experiences without fear of being judged. Members are able to discuss openly and informally their difficulties and concerns and how best to cope with them. The group is facilitated by a community NTL and the project co-ordinator. Family and carers are not involved in the group’s activities, although invited to attend specific sessions e.g. legal issues


Social Group


After the introductory group the members are given the opportunity to meet socially on a fortnightly basis. This is because often the group members have built strong relationships, and want the group to continue. The project runs two of these dementia support groups, which meet fortnightly. Occasionally the groups come together for an activity, but two groups are maintained in order to avoid outings becoming too large, to avoid potential stigmatisation. The groups are facilitated by the project worker, support workers, health care assistants and volunteers. The programme is planned by the group members, and activities range from tenpin bowling and art projects to trips to Loch Lomond and places of interest in Glasgow. Group members are picked up from home by a worker or volunteer and the group also has access to a mini bus.






Has an evaluation taken place?


The group was formally evaluated by Charlie Murphy- Dementia Services Development Centre in 2004. He observed two educational groups, two social groups, interviewed nine group members and staff. The report stated:


The results of the interviews carried out for this evaluation indicate that the project has achieved the very significant aim of creating an environment where people with dementia can feel safe. Members talked of feeling relaxed, of no longer feeling so isolated and about not feeling like they were the odd person out. For the educational group the results showed that all five members felt they had benefited from attending and also that positive changes had taken place for them as a result of attending. In the social group all four members felt that coming to the group had helped them and lived up to their expectations


How do you know it has made a difference?

One of the main benefits as perceived by the people with dementia is the relationships that they have built up with each other and staff and the feeling of acceptance. The evaluation of the project (see below) summarised things that had changed for group members. These included;  being accepted, having a joke, getting out, something to look forward to, feeling relaxed, human contact, increased knowledge and feeling good.


The evaluation by DSDS was very positive and highlighted that the low drop out rate of attendees was also an indication of the groups value to the users.


Alzheimer’s Scotland- Action on dementia booklet Making the Journey Brighter; early diagnosis and support services for people with dementia’ (2002) reported:


‘It has also led to an unexpected beneficial effect for carers, who tend to join the carers group offered by Rutherglen Community Carers earlier than before, and therefore benefit from earlier information and mutual support’(pg 23)





What changes, if any, would you make if you were starting the project again?


The group continues to evolve and changes are made as required.

e.g.  The second group had a high drop out rate. It became apparent that those attending were not aware of the purpose of the group and some not even aware of their diagnosis. Thereafter, all referrals to subsequent groups were visited at home by one of the facilitators to explain the purpose of the group and left written information. 


Future plans for project


What are the future plans for the project?


Staff are now offering one to one support for group members and plan to get small groups of people with dementia together i.e. twos and threes.

‘The Value History Project’ has also been set up.



Additional Information


The group won the National Mental Health Nursing Forum award for Innovation and Excellence- Older Peoples Services Category in 2007


Please provide any additional information about the project that may benefit others


Please provide any associated leaflets/documents/ team pictures/useful websites



Contact Person 


Win Forsyth  [email protected]   tel 0141 613 2003

Robert Boyd    [email protected] tel 0141 201 4220