A pioneering social network supporting people affected by dementia is to be launched in Cheshire East as a national pilot project.
A partnership led by Cheshire East Council was selected from 32 nationwide to receive a £136,000 Government grant to pilot the web-based resource, which will operate in a similar way to Facebook, Twitter and Bebo.
Users will be able to come together online to discuss the ways in which dementia affects their lives, share experiences and compare the resources, support and services available.
The authority is working with Alzheimer’s Society, Age Concern Cheshire, Central & Eastern Cheshire Primary Care Trust and Opportunity Links to develop the resource, which will go live in the autumn.
It is aimed at people whose lives are affected by dementia in a variety of ways embracing those with a diagnosis, their family, friends and carers, as well as health professionals.
With almost 5,000 people across Cheshire East diagnosed with dementia – a figure that is predicted to rise significantly - the partners identified a pressing need for a comprehensive information and support service.
“I am delighted that we can harness technology often associated with the young to provide a much needed support resource.
“This is especially significant given that older people have been proven to spend more time online than any other social group.”
Jill Walter, Chief Executive of Age Concern Cheshire, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to develop a new way of helping all those affected by dementia.
“It will also provide our local service providers with new ways of gaining crucial customer insight and feedback so as to make our services more effective and even better value for money.
“Social media has so much potential to make a positive impact on peoples’ lives.”
Roger March, Service Manager for Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We are delighted to be working with the partnership on this innovative project which will make a huge difference to the lives of people living with dementia and their carers in across Cheshire East.
“Alzheimer’s Society welcomes the use of new technology in supporting people with dementia.
“This project should help avoid isolation and encourage the exchange of ideas amongst those affected by dementia, which could have a positive impact on their ability to live well with dementia.”
Mike O’Regan, Associate Director of Joint Commissioning for Central and Eastern Cheshire Primary Care Trust, said: “We are pleased to have been involved in this project from the start and are fully in support of it.
“It will provide intergenerational support to those living with dementia and their carers who will benefit greatly from effective peer support and shared expertise.”