Category Archives: Older people

20,000 young people become Dementia Friends

The Scout Association and Alzheimer’s Society have teamed up to empower young people to help those living with dementia.

20,000 ScoScouts become Dementia Friendsuts have become Dementia Friends, joining the biggest ever social movement to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about dementia. As part of the ‘A Million Hands’ partnership’ between Alzheimer’s Society and The Scout Association, which started in October 2015, Scouts in all four corners of the UK have taken action on dementia.

The partnership will culminate in the Big Moment, where Scouts up and down the UK will unite to deliver a Dementia Friends Information Session in their community throughout April – May 2018, educating and empowering people to take action to tackle stigma around the condition.

Claire Jenkins, Head of Community Engagement at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Someone develops dementia every three minutes, but too many face it alone. There is a lot of fear and stigma still surrounding dementia. The goal of this project with The Scout Association is to ensure that young people are spreading awareness in their communities so that society can better understand the condition – today and in the future.

“Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends helps ensure that people know the issues and challenges that people with dementia face, and can take small actions to help them live a life they love in their community. We’ve found that by working with the Scouts Association, parents feel more comfortable talking about the condition, and young people are empowered to do what they can to help.”

Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer. It affects 850,000 people in the UK, with this number set to reach one million by 2021. But too many people with dementia are isolated and face the condition alone.

Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends helps to tackle the stigma and lack of understanding around dementia that means many people with the condition experience loneliness and social exclusion.

Claire Bruce, Beaver Scout Leader, said: “I’ve really enjoyed seeing the interaction between young people and people with dementia. With an ageing population, this an issue that is important and which is only going to become more relevant. Being a Dementia Friend is something our Scouts chose, and as active citizens, want to know more about.”

There are over 2.4 million Dementia Friends across England and Wales growing the dementia movement and taking action in their communities. But Alzheimer’s Society argues that more people are needed, from every age group, to end the stigma surrounding dementia. Young people and The Scout Association play a crucial role in ensuring that people with dementia feel included, supported and empowered in their communities.

Become a Dementia Friend by attending a Session or watching the video at Find out more about the ‘A Million Hands’ project at

Research reveals postcode lottery of care

Responses to a Freedom of Information request to local authorities have revealed a worrying postcode lottery of care, Royal London has revealed.

Royal London logoThe insurance company contacted 150 local authorities, of which 125 responded. The replies show a huge variation in both the amount councils will pay towards care home costs, and the extent to which people have to ‘haggle’ with their local authority to get a good deal.  Elderly people who enter care in a ‘crisis’ situation and do not have family members to advocate on their behalf could lose out when it comes to negotiating care fee packages, according to Royal London.

The research identified three different approaches taken by local authorities to funding care:

  • Authorities which have a fixed ceiling for care home funding which they will not exceed, regardless of actual care costs
  • Authorities which have a published ceiling but which regularly exceed it on a case-by-case basis
  • Authorities which say they have no set fee limit but negotiate each placement on a case by case basis

Commenting on the findings, Dominic Carter, Alzheimer’s Society Senior Policy Officer, said:  “The unacceptable postcode lottery of care that people face nationwide has been exacerbated by a lamentable lack of funding from Government. Local authorities have been left with precious little resource to provide the care people with dementia need.

“Because people with dementia have such complex needs, places in care homes are on average seven to ten per cent more expensive – but the rates local authorities pay hardly ever recognise this additional cost. On top of this, the report today highlights how much local authority funding differs across the country, heaping even more financial pressure on families in unlucky postcodes.

“The Government says it is committed to reforming social care, but we need to see enough funding to provide good quality, affordable care for everyone with dementia, no matter where they live.”

Steve Webb, Director of Policy at Royal London, added: “We have uncovered a disturbing patchwork of support for people needing residential care, which varies hugely depending on where you live.  The most worrying variation is the extent to which residents are expected to haggle with the council in some parts of the country.

“Whilst responding to individual needs and circumstances sounds like a good thing, it is very likely that older people who have vocal family members to support them will be able to strike a better deal. Local authorities must be very careful to ensure that they do not take advantage of the poor bargaining power of vulnerable elderly people, leading them to accept the cheapest care provision rather than the most suitable”.

Dream comes true for ‘Songaminute Man’

A dream has come true for ‘Songaminute Man’ Teddy Mac with the release of his first single, which will raise funds for Alzheimer’s Society.

Song a minute man

The 80-year-old former Butlin’s Redcoat, who has dementia, is heading for the music charts after being signed up by the famous Decca Records label.

Teddy ‘Mac’ McDermott shot to fame online as ‘The Songaminute Man‘, when his son Simon posted videos of his father singing during their very own Carpool Karaoke on YouTube, which rapidly went viral and became a worldwide hit.

Simon’s aim was to raise money and awareness for Alzheimer’s Society, following advice and support the McDermott family received from the charity’s National Dementia Helpline following his father’s diagnosis.

The unlikely double-act proved to be hugely successful, contributing to the country’s leading dementia charity to the tune of more than £100,000  – a massive 11569% increase on Simon’s initial fundraising aim of £1,000.

Now chart success beckons for Teddy with his own version of the Frank Sinatra classic You Make Me Feel So Young which was released on 23 September. Royalties from the single will be split between Alzheimer’s Society and the McDermott family.

Simon said:  “This is a dream come true not only for Dad, but for the entire family. There have been some really tough days in the last few years, especially for mum. The more Alzheimer’s kicked in, the more Dad became aggressive, both physically and verbally. It was incredibly difficult to manage and terrifying at times.

“We threw an 80th birthday party last month and thought that would be his last time singing solo for people, so it’s amazing to think he now has a single coming out. And it’s great to help Alzheimer’s Society, who provide so much support to other families going through the same things as us.”

Despite often not recognising his own son, Teddy, who was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013, remembers the lyrics of numerous songs and that earned him the nickname, ‘The Songaminute Man’.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer’s Society, said: “We know music can have a positive impact on people affected by dementia and that favourite songs or pieces of music can also be powerful prompts for reminiscence. This is clearly the case when Teddy sings and is transported back to his time as an entertainer.

“We’re incredibly grateful money raised from this single will be used to fund Alzheimer’s Society services like our National Dementia Helpline, which supported Teddy’s family. Teddy’s story shows life doesn’t end when dementia begins, and you can fulfil your dreams even after a dementia diagnosis.”

Buy ‘You make me feel so young’ by The Songaminute Man

Grandson and friends take on 1,000-mile ride

The cycling team

The cycling team

A fundraiser has said thoughts of his grandmother will spur him on for a 1,000-mile cycling challenge in aid of Alzheimer’s Research UK.

Sean McGregor, from Yarm, near Stockton-on-Tees, is gearing up to ride from Land’s End to John O’Groats alongside four of his friends – Robyn Sayers, Daisy Baggs, Rebecca Metin and Jack Green.

The group will set off on June 18 and have set themselves a goal of traversing the length of the country in 10 days, travelling an average of 100 miles a day.

Along the way they hope to raise thousands of pounds for dementia research – and Sean has already secured £3,000 of support from local businesses in Cleveland.

He said: “When I first had the idea of cycling this distance, I asked my friends if they’d do it with me, and I think a lot of them said yes before they realised what they’d let themselves in for.

“Four of us are military reserves so luckily we’re already fairly fit, but this is going to be a difficult challenge. I’m expecting the first two days through Cornwall and Devon to be very tough, but we’re looking forward to getting up to Scotland as the views are meant to be amazing.

“I wanted to support Alzheimer’s Research UK because my nanna was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2013, so I’ve seen first-hand the impact the disease can have.

“I’m very close to my nanna and this is a cause that’s close to my heart. I’ve told her what I’m doing and although I’m not sure how much she’s able to take in, I’m looking forward to being able to tell her about the journey when I get back.

“Through the fundraising we’ve been doing, I’ve realised how many people are affected by dementia – so many people who’ve supported us have told us what a fantastic cause this is and that makes it all worthwhile.”

Claire Priestwood, regional fundraising officer at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “What a fantastic challenge. We couldn’t be more grateful to Sean and his friends for taking on this exhausting journey, and we’ll be wishing them well as they set off.

“The money they raise will help us to provide crucial resources for our scientists, bringing new treatments, preventions and improved diagnosis closer.

“Over 850,000 people are living with dementia in the UK today, including over 8,000 in the Tees Valley alone, and we owe it to them to find better ways of fighting the condition. Research has the power to transform lives, and it’s thanks to people like Sean and his friends that we’re able to fund our vital work.”

To sponsor Sean, visit

To find out more about Alzheimer’s Research UK, visit

Investment success for home care service

Bell View Help at Home Care Workers

Five of Bell View Help at Home’s newly appointed care workers.

Big Issue Invest, the social investment arm of the Big Issue, is hailing the success of north Northumberland-based home care provider Bell View Help at Home, following its launch earlier this year.

Bell View Help at Home is a social enterprise dedicated to providing high quality home care to older people in north Northumberland and was launched with the help of a loan from Big Issue Invest.

Big Issue Invest (BII) is the social investment arm of The Big Issue. It supports and extends the work of The Big Issue, with self-help and prevention at its core, by backing business-like solutions to help tackle poverty and inequality.

Rod Jones, Regional Director for the North East and Cumbria at Big Issue Invest, says: “We are here to help worthwhile social businesses like Bell View Help at Home access the funding they need to grow and develop, so that they can help more people and communities.”

And Bell View Help at Home has already shown how an investment can make a real impact. The new service has only been going since February of this year but is already delivering over 300 hours of care a week, which has allowed over 25 elderly people to remain independent and live more flexibly in their own communities.

According to Jane Field, Service Development Manager at Bell View the Big Issue Invest investment was what was needed to make a new business idea a reality.

“We wanted to deliver an innovative way of providing care for older people. Not like the old kind of home care, chucking breakfast in front of you and going out the door. We wanted to offer an integrated package of support to people in the community.

“Although, in many ways, a social enterprise is just like any other type of business, it can be difficult for traditional lenders to see that our aims go beyond profit, and they are sometimes wary to lend to us. That’s where Big Issue Invest came in.”

Rod Jones adds: “Bell View Help at Home is a revolutionary service providing real care for elderly people, allowing them to remain independent and live more flexibly in their own communities, and Big Issue Invest is pleased to have been able to help them.

“At a time when many small businesses are struggling to access finance, Big Issue Invest is here to support social businesses in the North East, be they charities, co-operatives or social enterprises like Help at Home. People can find out more at our website”

Bell View Help at Home

Bell View is a registered charity which has been in operation since 1998 and runs a purpose built resource centre in Belford, Northumberland, offering care and support facilities for the elderly in the area. Thanks to a loan from Big Issue Invest, Bell View was able to establish Help at Home, to provide reliable and consistent care and support to older people in their own homes.

Running a home care service in an area which covers 150 square miles between Alnwick and Berwick is no mean feat. Qualified carers help with everything from supermarket trips to cleaning, but older people are also offered the chance to get out of the house and join lunch clubs at Belford day centre or in participating village halls. Local volunteers help out with transport and befriending services, making it a true community enterprise.

One customer said: “The Help at Home service is the best thing that has happened to our family. My father is like a different man.”

Golfer to help dementia charity


Oliver Walmsley

A professional golfer is raising money for dementia research by donating cash for every birdie he plays in 2014.
Oliver Walmsley, 20, from Leicester, was inspired to help Alzheimer’s Research UK after seeing two of his grandparents battle with the condition.

He hopes to increase the amount he raises by persuading others to sponsor his challenge.

Oliver, who plays at Cosby Golf Club, is in his second year as a professional and is due to play in around 30 tournaments in the UK and overseas in 2014. His season kicks off with two tournaments in Morocco in March.

Oliver plans to donate £1 for every birdie he makes, and is asking others to match his donations with sponsorship.

His parents also plan to raise money through events at their Leicester restaurant, Chef Patron.

Oliver explained: “My granddad passed away with Alzheimer’s six years ago, and then two years ago my nan was diagnosed with the disease, so I know how devastating its effects can be.

“I wanted to do something to support dementia research, but instead of cycling or running, I thought I would use what I do for a living to raise money.

“I usually average four or five birdies per round in each tournament, and I’ll donate £1 for each one – but if I can get even 10 people to pledge to sponsor me for the same amount, then I can raise much more.

“Everyone has been really supportive of the idea so I hope lots of people with sponsor me, and I want to get the word out to as many people as I can.

“This is a really important cause for my family, and we want to do as much as we can to help the dementia research experts.”

Miranda Johnson, head of corporate and community partnerships at Alzheimer’s Research UK, said: “This such a creative fundraising challenge, and we couldn’t be more grateful to Oliver for harnessing the power of his golf skills to support our work.

“Every £20 he raises will be enough to pay for another hour of pioneering research, bringing new treatments, preventions and improved diagnosis for dementia ever closer.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people living with dementia in the UK, including nearly 7,000 in Leicestershire, and research is crucial to make a difference to people’s lives.

“We rely on our wonderful supporters to be able to fund our research, and we hope the efforts of people like Oliver will inspire others to take up a fundraising challenge too.”

To sponsor Oliver, visit

Could you help older people Spring Online?

Spring Online 2014 logoWeb savvy people are being asked to run local digital taster events as part of an annual campaign to get more people to ‘Spring Online’.

According to the Office of National Statistics, some seven million people in the UK have never used the internet, of which six million are over the age of 55. Now Digital Unite is asking individuals, organisations and businesses to run events that give more people a taste of the benefits that the internet and digital technologies can bring.

A spokesman for Digital Unite said: “Millions more don’t have basic online skills such as sending emails or searching the web. They are missing out on the many advantages the web can offer, from shopping and paying bills online to keeping in touch with family and friends.”

Last year about 20,000 people were given their first taste of computers, the internet and other digital technology as part of the award-winning campaign.

Introductory sessions were set up in libraries, schools, businesses, housing schemes, pubs and internet cafes.

Other sessions were held at a cinema, street market and candle factory.

Digital Unite supports every event holder with downloadable posters, leaflets and certificates, activity ideas and friendly advice and guidance.

Spring Online, run in association with Carphone Warehouse, runs from March 31 to April 4 2014.

Dick Stroud, acting managing director of Digital Unite, said: “Spring Online is a great way to get involved with your local community. Through the 13 years of this campaign, we’ve seen the powerful effects of bringing people together to share an interest and explore modern technology.

“However you do it, whether it’s with a couple of tablets in your front room or by taking over your local community centre, being part of Spring Online can make a massive difference to everyone involved.”

More information is available at, by calling 0800 228 9272 or emailing