How COVID helped launch the Individual Dementia Support Program

3Bridges - Individual Dementia Support Program - 2020 Future of Ageing award winner

This article is part of our showcase of the 2020 Future of Ageing Awards. 3Bridges won the Dementia Care category.

Individual Dementia Support Program (IDSP) is an integrated, tailor-made ‘package of care’ that provides support to people diagnosed with mild to moderate dementia across all ages and their family carers.

IDSP is based on the principles of the Meeting Centre Support Program (MCSP) and Individual Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (iCST). Originally developed in the Netherlands, the MCSP is an innovative and integrated program providing care and support for both the person living with dementia and their informal carer, while iCST is a structured activity programme for people with dementia that has been shown to improve quality of life and cognition.

IDSP is delivered at the home of the person living with dementia and includes two weekly visits, each in the duration of 90-minutes.

Sessions can include but are not limited to:

  • Physical Activities (exercise, walk & talk, ball games, indoor balloon games, Thai chi, dancing, etc.)
  • Cognitive Activities (word games, puzzles, cross words, Sudoku, reminiscence therapy, speech enhancement, picture trivia, category games, etc.)
  • Social Activities (making food together, card, games, Uno, bingo, colouring in, immersive art, song along, craft & scrap book, poetry reading, etc.)

Carers support and counselling is also included in this program

How COVID helped launch the Individual Dementia Support Program

By late March 2020, the decision was made to close the community centres in Summer Hill and Carss Park NSW, where the group Meeting Centre Support Program was being run. Up until this time 3Bridges was operating the program at full capacity at these locations with around 40-families attending.

The consequences of social isolation on people living with dementia and the anticipated additional pressure on carers was a key aspect in how the program needed to respond, and it did.

Within two weeks the program was restructured from a group-based approach to individual, with one on one support for members and an online and telephone support service for carers – the Individual Dementia Support Program was born.

Families were provided with a self-help ‘survival kit’ to be used at home during the lockdown period. The kits included an exercise program with a private Youtube link, colouring-in sheets, Sudoku, puzzles, crosswords, a deck of cards, balloons, and noodles for indoor balloon tennis, a small ball, terra-bands, etc…so all members of these families could do together with the person living with dementia. The bags were dropped at the doorsteps of the families’ homes.  

How it worked

The Individual Dementia Support Program was developed to address the urgent need of people to stay connected, engaged, and supported by a qualified, and familiar team.

The program was continually refined during COVID and proved to be an ideal model of care under the circumstances.    

When developing this program, the team had to account for the natural progression of dementia symptoms, characterised by cognitive decline, loss of memory, changes in thinking, and an overall deterioration in functional abilities.

With the lifting of COVID restrictions, it became clear to those running the program that some of the current clients would not be able to return to groups due to their decline in cognitive abilities and no other care options to transition them into. The newly developed Individual Dementia Support Program would be able to support them and provide familiarity and structure going forward.

Evidence of success

Below are some of the responses received by the 3Bridges team via email, not including the many text messages they received:

“This is fantastic, thank you so much, my Dad, is going to love this! We have been doing our own program based on my memory of your exercise lessons but this is so much better”.

“Thank you so much for keeping in touch with us at these trying times. I have picked up my mother’s pack from Carrs Park this morning and Mum sends her thanks and appreciation for preparing this. She is missing you all and looks forward to returning when our world, hopefully, goes back to some normality”.

Yes, without the support, my husband would sit and watch TV all day. Routine, physical, mental and social engagement is vital for him. He particularly enjoys the painting, so much so he continues it at home sometimes without being prompted.

The day program is very important to me as it allows me to continue to work one day a week and also gives me some time to myself. I think this is important as it allows me to step back for a short while and try to become a little more grounded. Carer support provided by the staff is extremely important and helpful as they often have a better understanding of the difficulties we face as compared to others with whom we interact.

View the full list of 2020 Future of Ageing award winners here


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