We're working with the Society of Chief Librarians to develop a Reading Well Books on Prescription list and library offer for people with dementia and their carers. As part of this project, we're collecting best-practice case studies, which show the work that libraries are currently doing to support people living with dementia and their carers.
We spoke with Telford and Wrekin Libraries, who have been making great strides in developing a range of dementia-focused services. They recently became part of the Telford and Wrekin Dementia Forum - a marker of the value of their work.
In 2013, the role of Library Service Development Officer for Vulnerable Adults was created to work with people with dementia and their carers.
The Library Service Development Officer has undertaken the Alzheimer's Society's Champions in Dementia training and has, in turn, delivered dementia training to library staff. All volunteers involved with the authority's home library service are also offered dementia training.
The new officer has been forging links with carers and building supporting services for them, including library tours and coffee mornings, as well as a possible creative writing project for local carers of people with dementia.
Shared Reading groups
Several Shared Reading groups have been set up, in which poetry, prose and picture books are read and discussed with people with dementia. They are held at local day centres and residential homes and, to date, three ten-week groups have been established.
A 12-month Shared Reading group pilot is also underway, which is looking at how long-term reading groups can be set up. A key lesson from the pilot has been the need to engage with care staff working directly with group participants to ensure their 'buy-in'.
Evaluation of the Shared Reading work is crucial, and Telford and Wrekin Libraries have gathered data on group members' behaviour before and after taking part in the Shared Reading groups. Staff working with the groups also fill in a questionnaire on a quarterly basis, after a discussion with group members. Anecdotal feedback has so far been positive: one participant enjoys the group so much that he is often ready and waiting outside the room before the group meets.
Other supporting services
Telford and Wrekin have developed reading lists for people with dementia and their carers, some of which are available in e-book format. The home library service also goes to local residential care settings, where they promote the libraries' collection of reminiscence books and Shared Reading groups.
Library staff refer library visitors seeking general information on dementia to the Alzheimer's Society and Age UK, as well as promote a local Alzheimer's Society Reading Cafe which is run in the same building as one of the libraries.
Funding has recently been secured from the Heritage Lottery Fund for a community history and reminiscence project called Telford Our New Town: A Digital Archive. Working alongside the Library Service Development Officer, volunteers will collect memories of Telford from the 1960s to the 1980s from people participating in Shared Reading groups. These will be uploaded to a digital table in the new Southwater One Library. Contributors will be invited to view the archive and share their memories.
All Telford and Wrekin libraries have been designated 'safe places', which means that someone with dementia can come to them if they get lost. The service is also currently exploring the criteria their libraries would need to meet in order to become officially designated as dementia-friendly.
Find out more about Telford Our New Town: A Digital Archive.
If you'd like to learn more about the services offering by Telford and Wrekin Libraries for people with dementia and their carers, or the Reading Well Books on Prescription dementia list, please email firstname.lastname@example.org