People with dementia and unpaid carers say that the support of their peers is something they value the most. It helps to keep people more socially connected, giving them confidence and motivation to participate in their communities and friendship circles. It helps them feel valued by being listened to and being able to help others with similar experiences; it fosters a sense of belonging.
The Life Changes Trust funds many different types of peer support in Scotland and we are told regularly of the different ways in which peer support has transformed the lives of people with dementia and unpaid carers. Being listened to by peers, and knowing that their voice is valued, has boosted the confidence of many people with dementia and unpaid carers to take their experience to a wider platform in order to be influential. It is far easier to influence when a person feels they have the support of their peers.
This volume of ‘Dementia: A Whole Life Approach’ features Trust funded peer support projects who describe, in their own words, how they are supporting people living with dementia and unpaid carers to grow in confidence and feel better understood and supported through peer support initiatives.
There is also an annex to this volume. In 2017, the Life Changes Trust invited some carers in Glasgow to design and organise their own conference. In 2018, carers in East Lothian, taking inspiration from the Glasgow event, did the same. Both were run by carers, for carers, with support from the Trust and from tide (Together in Dementia Everyday), and were hugely successful. As part of this Peer Support Volume we are also publishing a ‘How to Guide’ annex for other carers who may wish to do the same. It provides top tips and information, and also has a downloadable template pack for planning around an event.