30 November update

Dear Supporters 

I hope this update finds you and your loved ones safe and well. We know how difficult the winter months are for the people we support, particularly with the current cost of living crisis and rising energy costs. We want to reassure you that we remain here for people living with dementia and their family carers across Scotland. Alzheimer Scotland has launched a Winter Essentials Fund, which offers grants of £50 to people with dementia and unpaid carers. Some examples of how the grant can be used include buying warm clothing, electric blankets, hot water bottles, or helping meet travel costs to attend a local group. You can find out more here.  

There was a promising announcement this week regarding a successful trial of the drug "lecanemab" for early Alzheimer's disease. This is the first new drug to show a slowing of decline in disease progression in the brain and in cognitive function. In our view it is a very meaningful breakthrough and heralds a new era for Alzheimer’s treatments. You can read more here.  

We published our Annual Review this month, a wonderful reflection on the support and services we have provided across Scotland in the last 12 months and I would like to thank all colleagues and volunteers for their dedication and commitment to people with dementia and their families and carers. The report was launched at our Annual General Meeting, where we were delighted to welcome members to our office in Glasgow and so grateful for technology enabling us to have some many attendees online too. We also officially opened our new Brain Health & Dementia Resource Centre in Glasgow last month, offering support for people with dementia, their families and carers, as well as providing a drop in facility for anyone interested in finding out more about brain health and risk reduction. 

Our Every Voice Community Choir have been inundated with praise for their recording of Lean on Me, which is featured in our winter fundraising campaign, Lean on Me. You can watch them perform here, and thank you to everyone who has so kindly donated to the campaign so far. We would not be able to provide the level of support that we do without the generosity of our supporters – thank you.  

Please remember our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline (0808 808 3000) is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  

Best wishes 

Henry Simmons 
Chief Executive 

31 October update

Dear Supporters

I hope this finds you and your families safe and well. As we move into the winter months, our concerns are with the most vulnerable people in our dementia community. Through calls to our helpline, as well as through our frontline support and services, we are continually hearing of increased levels of distress from people with dementia and carers about being unable to access primary and social care due to limited resources in the system. We are also hearing from people who are having to choose between heating their homes or putting a nutritious meal on the table. Clearly this is unacceptable, and we would like to try and do as much as we can to support people during this time. We will be making sure all of our 24 Dementia Resources Centres will be providing extra groups and sessions where possible, providing people with a warm space and company. We will also be launching an extension of our Time for You fund in the form of a small winter essentials grant. This will provide those most in need with a small grant of £50 to help purchase some additional essentials to help them through this winter. We will be launching this fund in the forthcoming weeks. 

Alzheimer Scotland welcomes the launch of the Scottish Government’s National Conversation. As Scotland’s leading dementia charity, the voice of lived experience is central to every aspect of our work. Our frontline staff across Scotland are supporting meaningful debate and discussion with people with dementia and carers to feed into the next National Dementia Strategy, however the voices of the many individuals with lived experience who helped shape the past three consecutive National Dementia Strategies cannot be forgotten, and we welcome a review of commitments which remain outstanding as part of this important National Conversation. 

We are delighted to launch My Amazing Brain through our Brain Health Scotland team, which is a range of free brain health teaching resources aimed at 8-12 year olds. This is the first programme of its kind in the UK and the key message is that it’s never too early for people to start thinking about keeping their brains healthy. We know that potentially up to 30% of dementias are preventable. By protecting our brain health today, we may be preventing dementia in the future.

Our Winter Fundraising Campaign will launch in November. It is inspired by – and stars – our Every Voice Choir singing their song of choice, Lean On Me. The Choir is a fantastic example of everything special about our community services – all of which are delivered through the support of fundraised income. We hope you enjoy the films our team have produced for the campaign, and if you are in a position to support Alzheimer Scotland, thank you. 

For those members attending our Annual General Meeting in November, I look forward to welcoming you to our newly refurbished Brain Health & Dementia Resource Centre in Glasgow.  

Take care, and please remember our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline is available on 0808 808 3000

Best wishes

Henry Simmons 
Chief Executive 

31 August update

Dear Supporters

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well. As we approach September – World Alzheimer’s Month – we welcome the UK Government’s announcement in recent weeks on the launch of an increase in research funding for dementia, in honour of the late Dame Barbara Windsor. This will undoubtedly have a significant impact on dementia research in Scotland. It is the aim of ‘Bab’s Army’ to get as many people to take part in research as possible - research is hope, and by taking part, people can do something tangible to help understand and increase the likelihood of finding a cure. Alzheimer Scotland is a key partner in the delivery and development of Join Dementia Research – a nationwide online and telephone service that makes it easier for people to register their interest in volunteering for dementia research studies.

Alzheimer Scotland’s key aims are underpinned by research: Prevent, Care, Cure. This is the title theme for our Annual Conference on Monday 5 September, where we will explore these themes and hear from expert panellists from across the dementia community, with opportunities for networking, breakout sessions, and therapeutic activities.  We are delighted to welcome attendees to our first in person event since 2019, and very much looking forward to connecting with members, colleagues and friends on the day. 

We understand new guidance from the Scottish Government is imminent regarding the use of face masks in residential care. There is little doubt there can be a detrimental impact on the quality of person-centred care for people living with dementia when the non verbal interactions with staff are incredibly limited due to mask wearing. Due to growing concerns from campaigning groups and individuals over the use of face masks, Alzheimer Scotland hosted a round table discussion with a number of key stakeholders, including representatives from the Scottish Government, and feedback and reflections from the discussion have been shared with the Minister ahead of the new guidance. Meantime, our Action on Rights team are here to offer support to anyone with a friend or family living in a care home in Scotland. 

Hopefully you saw some of the recent news coverage on the truly inspirational Nick Gardner, who completed his challenge to climb 282 Scottish Munros in August. The scenes from the summit were a testament to Nick’s drive and determination to raise funds for two charities, with staff from both Alzheimer Scotland and the Royal Osteoporosis Society there to celebrate his incredible accomplishment. You can read more about Nick's amazing achievement and make a donation here

Best wishes

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive
 

30 June update

Dear Supporters  

I hope this finds you and your loved ones safe and well. Thank you to everyone who took part in supporting Dementia Awareness Week 2022. We were delighted with the level of engagement in this year’s campaign – every conversation about dementia goes some way to raising awareness of the illness and challenging stigma and perceptions. Thank you also to everyone who supported our Tea & Blether fundraiser – it was great to see so many photos and conversations on our social media channels.  

Many of our supporters will be familiar with our Fair Dementia Care campaign, which we established in 2019 following the publication of our Delivering Fair Dementia Care for People with Advanced Dementia report. Ultimately, the campaign seeks to end the inequalities faced by people living with advanced dementia who we believe are treated differently in our current system to those with other life limiting illnesses such as cancer. Our animation of Mary’s story captures the essence of these injustices - putting an end to them remains one of the most significant campaigns for Alzheimer Scotland. In recent weeks we have written to Scottish Government Ministers clarifying our position and explaining that we believe that when a person with dementia progresses to the advanced dementia stage, they should be offered access to an appropriate assessment process that will determine if their needs are primarily health care needs – and if so, should be free. At present there is no mechanism for this, however we believe this is wrong and that there is a duty on the NHS to provide this assessment and if an individual’s needs are deemed to be primarily health care, then the NHS should fund this  - not the person. We will keep you updated on the progress of this.  

We were delighted to officially launch our new Brain Health & Dementia Resource Centre in Alloa on 1 June, which includes a drop in facility for people to find out more about reducing the risk factors associated with dementia and getting support. The response to this innovative approach has been remarkably positive from people with dementia we currently support, as well as members of the general public, some of whom have already accessed the brain health hub. Our investment into local communities continues, with plans to open up a similar centre in Perth well underway. Additionally, our existing Edinburgh premises are currently being developed into a Brain Health & Dementia Resource Centre, which we’re excited to formally launch on World Alzheimer’s Day – 21 September.  

A reminder that our Annual Conference is on Monday 5 September at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC). As always, places for people with dementia and their families and carers will be complimentary. Registration for the event will be opening shortly and will be announced on our website and social media channels. We are delighted to welcome attendees in person this year and very much looking forward to connecting and networking.  

Best wishes 

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive 

30 April update

Dear Supporters

I hope this finds you and your family safe and well. We know many people are going through a very challenging time as a result of the immense pressures and gaps in social care services. This is particularly challenging for those of you who are waiting for an assessment or access to services. So much of this pressure will be falling on families and carers - please do get in touch with our local teams to find out ways that we might be able to help you at present. We will be using this year’s Dementia Awareness Week to really highlight these pressures and to bring forward some suggestions on how we believe this burden could and should be eased.   

Meantime, we are pleased to tell you about some areas that are progressing well. For example, we were delighted to launch the ‘Sports & Exercise for Brain Health’ open online course earlier this month. The new course builds on the success of the ‘Understanding Brain Health’ course introduced last year and was developed in response to calls from current and former athletes wanting to know more about the latest evidence-based brain health knowledge and practice. It is also a fantastic way to reach out to those younger people engaged in grassroots sports across the country, helping them and their coaches understand brain health and how to protect themselves whilst at the same time enjoying participation in sports. This compliments the work our brain health team are developing for primary school children, which will really help improve future generations’ understanding.

It was fantastic to see so many people participating in the recent Glasgow Kiltwalk event and fundraising for Alzheimer Scotland. We are also delighted with the number of people who have signed up for our new national Tea & Blether campaign taking place during Dementia Awareness Week. The efforts our supporters go to in order to help people living with dementia and their families and carers is outstanding – a fine example of such tenacity is Harry Racionzer who cycled 90 miles on his exercise bike (a mile for each of his 90 years) to raise funds for Alzheimer Scotland. Harry took on the challenge in honour of his late wife Etta. Well done Harry and thank you so much.

Best wishes

Henry Simmons 
Chief Executive 
 

28 February update

Dear Supporters 

I hope this update finds you and your loved ones well.  

I was deeply saddened this month at the passing of Henry Rankin, a friend and highly valued colleague of Alzheimer Scotland. Henry was a member of the Scottish Dementia Working Group (SDWG) for many years and chaired the group for 4 years, a role in which he excelled in.  Henry campaigned tirelessly to raise awareness of dementia and was passionate about improving the lives of future generations. He was passionate about the Dementia Champions programme, and both he and his wife Anne felt it was so important to improve the experience people with dementia had while in hospital. Henry was always happy to share his stories with students, health and social care professionals and policy makers. He knew the value that the voice of people living with dementia had. It was both a pleasure and a privilege to have known and worked with Henry over the years and our thoughts are with his family and friends. 

Many of our supporters will have been alarmed to read the Scottish Government’s “Excess deaths from all causes and dementia” report published in early February. The report raises many concerning issues, however first and foremost, our thoughts are with every person who passed away during this time and for their families who have been left to deal with such unimaginable loss and grief. You can read our full response to the report here. The findings from this report need a full debate and discussion as there are significant and substantial concerns that arise from it. We want to ensure this debate takes place and involves people with dementia and their families and carers. To this end, we will be holding engagement sessions to discuss the future of long term care and indeed who pays for it. We would welcome your participation and if you would like to share your thoughts or take part in a discussion, please email us via [email protected].  

We were delighted to launch the ‘Time for You’ carers fund on 14 February, funded by the Scottish Government to help support unpaid carers of people with dementia living in Scotland. The fund will run for a period of 6 months, and we’re pleased to have already welcomed applications since it launched. Find out more about the fund here, and please share with anyone you think would find it beneficial.  

Finally I’d like to say a thank you to all our supporters who are engaging in fundraising events and challenges – it is never lost on us how far people will go to help change the lives of people with dementia and their carers in Scotland – thank you.  

Best wishes 

Henry Simmons 
Chief Executive  
 

 

 

 

31 January update

Dear Supporters

I hope this update finds you and your loved ones well and that 2022 will be better year for all of us. 

I am pleased we are beginning to see some light at the end of the tunnel with the Omicron variant and now more able to look forward to this year with a sense of optimism. I know that for many people the festive period will have been very difficult, particularly for those of you who will have been grieving for lost loved ones or struggling to spend the festivities with those you love due to the restrictions. Our Action on Rights team were inundated with calls in the week leading up to Christmas regarding care home visits and thankfully the team were able to support some 37 families secure a visit on Christmas Day. As always, our Freephone Helpline volunteers ensured that through their commitment and dedication, they were there 24 hours a day for anyone needing support during this time, and indeed at all other times. Thank you to all our dedicated colleagues, volunteers and supporters who have helped us through this difficult period.    

As we look forward in 2022, there are number of important developments and new campaigns that we will be taking forward. I am pleased to tell you that we have received funding of £540,000 from the Scottish Government to expand wellbeing support and services for unpaid carers who are looking after a family member with dementia. This will be used to increase local support groups and respite activities. It will also include a small grants scheme for creative short breaks, which we have previously provided, and it produced fantastic results. Colleagues are busy behind the scenes pulling together all the necessary processes to launch the scheme and plan the local activities - more news on this will follow soon. 

I am also pleased to let you know that we are beginning to see the dedicated national funding for post diagnostic support filter down into local areas. This should mean that by April this year there will be a substantial increase in the number of Post Diagnostic Link Workers throughout Scotland. This is a major step in reducing the current high levels of waiting lists and waiting times for this vital support. Again, we will keep you updated on progress. 

In the next few months we hope to see a return to in-person events. This will include the official opening of our new Dementia Resource Centre in Alloa, a fantastic new resource which has been made possible by the dedication of our local volunteers who raised over £90,000 to help us purchase and develop this Centre. A huge thanks to them and all our donors who made this possible. We will also be launching a new National Walking Football Network in March, hosted by our partners in North Lanarkshire Council at the impressive Ravenscraig Sports Complex and we are looking forward to some high profile ambassadors kicking this off for us.   

We will continue to press on with our Fair Dementia Care campaign this year and alongside this we plan to have a particular focus on research within our public campaigns and engagement. There are some key dates and events that you might want to save the dates for now, these include the Scottish Dementia Research Consortium conference on 9th & 10th May, Dementia Awareness Week from 30th May to 5th June, and our annual national conference on the 21st September, World Alzheimer’s Day. I cannot tell you how much I am looking forward to seeing our colleagues, members, supporters and most importantly the people we support in person - it has been a long time.

As always, thank you for your continued and invaluable support. 

Best wishes

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive