27 May update

Dear Supporters

We are delighted to launch our annual Dementia Awareness Week today, with the aim of raising awareness of dementia and helping improve the lives of people with dementia, their families and carers. Our theme this year is: Your voice, Your choice, Your future. Each person living with dementia has their own unique story, and their needs, preferences and aspirations are as diverse as they are. At Alzheimer Scotland, we advocate for a person-centred approach to all health and social care that enables people with dementia to live as well as they can for as long as they can. We believe that good person-centred care should give people the power and control to make choices that reflect who they are and what matters most to them - now and crucially in the future. 

However, it is clear to us that this is not always the case, especially when people’s needs change and they require a greater level of support. Too often at this stage people are being offered only one option, which is some form of residential care, something that we know many people would not choose. But due to the financial constraints, a lack of creative alternatives and a lack of a true desire to deliver meaningful person-centred care that reflects individual choice, that’s the only offer. This is not right, and we lack a positive and creative range of alternative options. This is why Alzheimer Scotland formed a Commission in late 2022 to consider these challenges and explore alternative approaches. 

Today sees the publication of Alzheimer Scotland’s Commission on The Future of Long Term Care in Scotland report and the 16 key recommendations which we are calling on the Scottish Government to implement as a matter of urgency. 

Within this report we highlight that there is no meaningful long term care plan for people with dementia, residential care has been developed through an open market approach and there is little strategic commissioning of services that reflect the hopes and desires of people living with dementia. The report also highlights our previous findings in the Fair Dementia Care Commission that for many people with advance dementia their care needs are unequivocally health care needs, indistinguishable from the needs of people with other forms of terminal illness, yet unlike these other conditions many people with advanced forms of dementia are faced with having to pay huge sums each week for this care, which should be free. This is simply not right, and we have been and will continue to do all that we can to bring an end to this inequality. 

We urge the Scottish Government to implement all of the recommendations and deliver fairness, equality and the best possible long term care to one of our most vulnerable communities in Scotland. You can read the full report here.

We hope you enjoy all the Dementia Awareness Week films and stories you’ll see on our website and social media channels this week. I would like to thank each of our wonderful contributors, Catherine, Margaret and Jean who all shared their time and experiences to shape the campaign.

Finally, I want to thank everyone who is taking part in our national Tea & Blether fundraiser, your support is simply invaluable in helping us make sure nobody faces dementia alone. 

Best wishes 

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive 
 

30 April update

Dear Supporters

I hope this find you and your loved ones safe and well.

Each year, Dementia Awareness Week aims to raise awareness and help improve the lives of people living with dementia, their carers and families. This year, Dementia Awareness Week will take place between 27 May and 2 June. Our theme this year is 'Your voice, Your choice, Your future' and highlights the importance of person-centred care and the difference it can make to peoples’ lives.

No matter where or how you are receiving support, be it in the community, hospital or a residential facility it is vital that you are treated with respect and given the power and control to make choices that reflects who you are and what matters most to you.

Our Long Term Care Commission was established in 2022 to consider alternative approaches to delivering more effective methods of long term care and support. Chaired by former First Minister Henry McLeish and with members of our Active Voice groups adding the voice of personal experience, the Commission's report and key recommendations will be published during Dementia Awareness Week. The report will be available to read on our website.

Tickets are now available for our Annual Conference. The event will be held on Friday 20 September at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre and, as always, tickets are free for people with dementia and carers. It's a wonderful opportunity to get together and hear about new developments from the dementia community. You can find out more here.

Finally, thank you to all our supporters who continue to fundraise in inspiring ways, helping us to make sure nobody faces dementia alone. Our annual Tea & Blether event has now launched, and I’d like to thank everyone who has already registered – you can find out more about Tea & Blether here.

Best wishes

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive 
 

28 February update

Dear Supporters 

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

You may have watched the recent Panorama documentary – ‘Alzheimer’s: A Turning Point?’ that looked at two new breakthrough drug treatments for Alzheimer’s disease – lecanemab and donanemab. The results of trials of these treatments over the last two years have shown that they can slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s disease – if taken in the earlier stages of the condition. 

Currently, these drugs are only available through clinical trials, and we expect a decision in the coming months on whether they will be licensed for use in the UK, and indeed if they are licensed, whether they will be made available on the NHS. There is no doubt that many of you will be watching for these developments with a keen interest. We will do all we can at Alzheimer Scotland to campaign for equity of access if these drugs are licensed, and we will keep you updated you as we go forward. The documentary is still available to watch here.

The 11-17 March is Brain Awareness Week – a global initiative raising awareness and support for brain science. This year, our ‘never too early, never too late’ campaign will look at the different ways that people keep their brain healthy. From schoolkids to people living with a diagnosis of dementia, we will be hearing from people directly about what they do every day to look after their brain health. If you want to find out more about what you can do for your brain health, our Brain Health Scotland website has a range of tips, advice and resources to help you get started. 

Finally, National Helpline Day took place on 23 February. Alzheimer Scotland’s Helpline has been running for 35 years, offering emotional support and a listening ear 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and is supported by a team of skilled and dedicated volunteers. I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of our Helpline volunteers for their compassion and time - you are truly inspiring, thank you.

Best wishes

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive   
 

31 January update

Dear Supporters 

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

You may have recently seen in the press some news about testing for Alzheimer's disease using blood biomarkers. A biomarker is a trait that can be measured in your blood, body fluids, and tissues and they can be signs of conditions and diseases.

As part of the Davos Alzheimer’s Collaborative (DAC) worldwide programme, our team at Brain Health Scotland has been working on a project looking at implementing new tools that can be used in clinical pathways in brain health, primary care and specialist settings. These tools include a digital cognitive assessment which contains a lifestyle and health questionnaire and a blood based biomarker.

We know the benefits of having a timely dementia diagnosis, so to have a blood test that could offer this would be game changing, allowing people to access medication and support at an earlier stage of the disease. Work on this is still in progress and although these blood tests are not currently available to the public, we will of course keep you updated on any new developments on this.

We were delighted to launch a new Brain Health Service and Clinic located in our Aberdeen Brain Health & Dementia Resource Centre in early December. This is the first example in the UK of a brain health service that offers a drop-in, self-referral system and is a multi-agency project between Scottish Government, NHS Grampian and Alzheimer Scotland (which includes our Brain Health Scotland team). This innovative new service is for anyone who might have concerns about their brain health. You can find out more here.

We would like to offer our congratulations to Nick Gardner who was recently awarded an MBE. At the age of 80, Nick took on the challenge of climbing all 282 Munros and he raised an incredible £51,000 for Alzheimer Scotland. 

Finally, our events team has lined up an exciting range of fundraising challenges for you to take part in in 2024. You can find out more about how to get involved here. Thank you for helping us make sure nobody faces dementia alone.

Best wishes

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive

21 December update

Dear Supporters 

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

We know that winter can be a difficult time for many people. Over the coming months, Alzheimer Scotland will be here for you and supporting you in a variety of ways. Our Centres across Scotland offer a warm space and a warm welcome, and where possible, will be providing extra groups and activities. Our National Dementia Advisor Service, launched in September this year can help with information, advice or advocacy in dealing with issues relating to dementia and is available 9-5, Monday to Friday. And of course, our Helpline is there for you day or night, offering a listening ear, emotional support, information and signposting. 

Thank you to everyone who has supported Alzheimer Scotland in 2023 by fundraising for us or making a donation. Our current winter campaign ‘We’re all in’ which focuses on dementia research has already received many generous donations – you can find out more about the campaign here.

Finally, thank you to all Alzheimer Scotland staff, volunteers and supporters for their hard work, and their dedication and commitment to people with dementia, their families and carers in Scotland.

I wish you all a safe and peaceful festive season.

Best wishes   

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive
 

30 November update

Dear Supporters 

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

We were delighted to launch our 2022/23 Annual Review at our recent Annual General Meeting. The review reflects on some of the innovative work taken place over the last 12 months and highlights some of our key achievements. You can download your copy here

This year, our winter campaign focuses on research and some of the wonderful people we support and work with who give their time to dementia research. In our ‘We’re All In’ campaign, we celebrate the idea that each of us, in our own unique way, can contribute to dementia research. Thank you to Willy, Kenny and Rynagh who all featured in the campaign, talking about their own personal experience of living with a diagnosis and participating in research. Our campaign strapline ‘Together we’re the change – are you in?’ sums up perfectly how working together today can bring hope for tomorrow. You can find out more about the ways you can support this campaign here

Dementia research was also a focus of STV’s Scotland Tonight: Living with Dementia last week. It featured Graeme and Kirstin Sutherland, whose mother Linda is living with Alzheimer's. If you missed it, the link can be found here and is available for another few weeks. 

We know winter can be a challenging time. We want to reassure you that Alzheimer Scotland will remain here for you over these coming months between our local support and warm spaces, our National Dementia Advisor Service and our 24 hour Freephone Dementia Helpline. Find out more here

Best wishes

Henry Simmons
Chief Executive