(Image above reproduced by kind permission of Mandy Moore.)
Along with Libraries Connected we're working on a Reading Well Books on Prescription dementia booklist and public library offer. As part of our research we've been talking to libraries that provide dementia-focused services.
In March 2013, Hampshire County Council appointed Andover Mind to lead the creation of Dementia Friendly Communities across the county. Sue Smith, Library Manager for New Forest Libraries, explains here how Hampshire Library and Information Service has supported this initiative.
Dementia Friends training
The Dementia Friendly Communities initiative really fits in with our ethos of working to make everyone feel welcome and at home in our libraries, and to give the best service we possibly can to all visitors.
From the outset, we signed up all our staff - both backroom and public-facing - for the Dementia Friends training that Andover Mind was offering. I'm now a Dementia Champion, which means I can train staff myself. Staff have said that they now feel more comfortable making first contact if someone comes into the library and looks lost or exhibits signs of dementia.
The Dementia Friends training coincided with our refurbishment of Lymington Library. In the training, we learned that environmental factors can impact on a person with dementia, so we changed our refurbishment plans accordingly. We chose a grey carpet and some of the furniture is vivid pink - colour contrasts like this help both visually impaired people and people with dementia to navigate their way around.
We also learned that people with dementia sometimes visualise themselves when they were younger and so seeing themselves in a mirror can be a shock. So we moved the mirrors in the accessible toilets so that they're not directly facing the toilets.
Dementia Friendly High Streets
Fareham, Lyndhurst, Fleet and Lymington have all been declared Dementia Friendly High Streets, which means that many of the local shops and services have given their staff dementia awareness training. Participating shops put a sticker in their window so that anyone with dementia and their carers can be reassured that they're in a safe environment. In all cases, local libraries have played an active part in achieving this accreditation.
Hampshire Dementia Action Alliance
Hampshire Libraries is also a member of the Hampshire Dementia Action Alliance. As a member, we've drawn up an action plan covering the next 18 months, demonstrating how we'll make a positive difference to the quality of life for people with dementia and carers in Hampshire.
Being part of this Alliance means you're part of a community and you're not working in isolation - we can draw on others' experiences of what has worked well for them. Our membership also demonstrates that our library service is open to discussions with people with dementia and carers' groups about the services they want and need.
Basingstoke Discovery Centre holds the county's reminiscence collection, and anyone visiting Hampshire's libraries can reserve items from it. There are books, DVDs, music, posters, postcards and even boxes of smells - freshly mown grass, new leather, Blackpool rock, etc. All the items are designed to stimulate memory and discussion with people with dementia.
Most of our libraries are now getting sets of Pictures To Share, which contain clear photos on different subjects such as sport, travel and women's work. They're intended as a prompt for those working with or caring for a person with dementia to stimulate discussion.
Our main partnership is with the Alzheimer's Society, which is doing a sterling job locally of setting up art and sport reminiscence groups. To help them in this, our libraries make rooms available for free, or at very low cost.
Alongside the Pictures to Share books, we can provide reminiscence groups with materials from our local studies collection. If someone remembers a local event or news story, we can find the newspaper that covered it. For example, we have a special edition of the local paper published when Southampton FC won the FA Cup in 1976.
By doing this, we get the message out that a wide variety of facilities are available in your local library.
Read case studies about the work that Telford and Wrekin and Southend-on-Sea Libraries are doing to support people with dementia and their carers.
If you'd like to find out more about the Reading Well Books on Prescription dementia list and public library offer, please email email@example.com.