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New support for couples coping with the challenges dementia brings.

Thanks to innovation grant funding from City and Hackney Clinical Commissioning Group, The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships (TCCR) is bringing their innovative Living Together with Dementia programme to City and Hackney. Health and social care professionals, working in City and Hackney, can now apply for free training in this couple-focused psychosocial intervention.

Living Together with Dementia (LTwD) aims to improve the quality of life and mental health of couples living with dementia: increasing the length of time people can maintain their independence; remain active and preserve an intimate and familiar relationship with their partner – reducing the burden and health impacts on that partner/carer. LTwD focuses on the couple relationship, utilising its established resilience and strengthening its ability to survive and act as a protective resource, able to make optimal adjustment to the dementia, support interdependence and contain care needs. The work programme involves locally based charity workers of One Dementia Alliance and the Alzheimer’s society, making for a truly joined up approach.

Nationally, the prevalence of dementia is increasing – one-in-three people over 65 will develop dementia (Alzheimer’s Society, 2012), which has significant financial implications. Dementia care is a Government/NHS priority including early diagnosis and better support for carers. In City and Hackney 700 people are listed on the 2013-2014 Dementia Register, and 5% of those over 65 and 10-20% of those over 80 are affected by dementia.

Two thirds of those living with dementia in the UK live at home, often with their spouse. 85% of people would want to stay living at home for as long as possible if diagnosed with dementia (Alzheimer’s Society, 2012). Extending the time in which home care is practicable is both desirable and economically advantageous. However, this can place a mental and physical burden on the carer leading to poorer outcomes and health inequalities (DoH 2008). They are likely to have higher than normal levels of depression than carers of other older people (Moise et al, 2004). It is often when a medical emergency occurs or when the burden of care becomes too great to endure that institutional care is used.

To help those serving the local population, the programme trains health and social care professionals, working in City and Hackney, who can apply now for TCCR’s three day LTwD January training course, which prepares trainees to deliver this intervention to couples in City and Hackney through eight to ten home visits. These sessions use shared involvement in everyday activities as a basis for enhancing understanding and communication, mobilising existing strengths and addressing negative cycles of interaction which often accompany dementia. Fortnightly group clinical supervision are provided. More information and details on how to apply can be found at www.tccr.ac.uk/living-together-with-dementia.

The LTwD approach has been designed by Andrew Balfour, Director of Clinical Services at TCCR, initial piloting and development work in Camden has involved working with couples living with dementia and expert dementia support providers.

City and Hackney CCG’s grant funding supports Living Together with Dementia’s operation in City and Hackney for a year.  Welcoming City and Hackney CCG’s support, TCCR Chief Executive Susanna Abse said:

“The LTwD programme demonstrates a new way for us to help the growing population of couples who are trying to cope with the exacting demands of ageing and mental health together. This is a major challenge to health providers, government, indeed all society and projects such as this with City and Hackney show there is a way to build resilience and strength for the population while easing the burden on our healthcare system.”

Dr Rhiannon England, City and Hackney CCG's Clinical Lead for Mental Health, said:

“We are delighted to work with TCCR to the benefit of both couples and health professionals in City and Hackney and reduce the burden on the carer by investment in the couple’s relationship. Investment in training will leave a legacy, allowing more couples living with dementia in City and Hackney to benefit in the future.”

. For further information contact:

TCCR: John Fenna, Head of Marketing & Communications T: 0207 380 1974 E: jfenna@tccr.org.uk  W: www.tccr.ac.uk            www.tccr.org.uk

Notes to Editor

  1. About TCCR

The quality of our closest relationships profoundly affects how we feel about ourselves and has material and measurable consequences for our lives and those around us – affecting the emotional, cognitive and physical development of our children, our capacity to work and to be fulfilled in work, and our physical and mental health.

Established in 1948 The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships (TCCR) is an internationally renowned charity delivering and developing advanced practice, training and research in therapeutic and psycho-educational approaches to supporting couples.

The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships, 70 Warren Street, London W1T 5PB
Registered Charity Number: 211058. Company number: 241618 registered in England and Wales. The Tavistock Institute of Medical Psychology

  1. Andrew Balfour

Andrew Balfour is Director of Clinical Services at the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships and senior clinical lead on LTwD, which has run in settings such as the London Borough of Camden. He trained as a clinical psychologist at University College London and then as an adult psychotherapist at the Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships. He worked for many years at the adult department of the Tavistock Clinic where he specialised in old age. He has published a number of papers and has taught and lectured widely in the UK and abroad. Andrew is available for press comment.