News at DCU

Elevator Award for Innovation in Dementia

A novel idea to set up a community choir in Naas for people with dementia and their carers has claimed the inaugural DCU Elevator Award for Innovation in Dementia.  The winning proposal was developed by Kildare Liaison and Social Service (KLASS) in response to feedback from carers of the growing demands placed upon them and the associated physical and mental health impact. The award was established by the Dementia Elevator programme at DCU to highlight initiatives from around the country that contribute in a meaningful and significant way to the everyday lives of people affected by dementia.

The KLASS community choir aims to provide a social support for carers, not just amongst their peers, but also from a team of interested, volunteering professionals.  It offers an enjoyable, creative and fun activity for both carer and loved one while simultaneously offering support activities specifically aimed at carers.  An award of €1000 will now allow KLASS to develop their idea.

Sharon Murphy, Musical Director of KLASS said,

‘The choir will be an invaluable social activity for both the person with dementia and his or her carer.  Furthermore, the activities organised on the edges of choir practice will allow carers to slip in and out of the choir, knowing that their loved one is in a comfortable and stimulating environment.”

More than forty applications were received from throughout the country and included diverse projects such a network of Alzheimers Cafes; an app to rate and locate dementia friendly places, activities and services; a Transition Year meal-sharing initiative; early stage dementia peer support groups; assistive technologies awareness programmes; and a national electronic GP dementia referral form. 

Dr Kate Irving, joint lead of the Dementia Elevator project at DCU said,

“It was great to see some really positive stories coming from all sectors in response to the challenge that dementia is posing to individuals and services. The award ceremony may well lead to further funding opportunities for other short-listed projects who were showcased on the day. We hope it will become a feature of the landscape in DCU for years to come and really underlines our commitment to engaging with the broader community on societal challenges.”

Prizes were also awarded to three runner-up initiative:

  • The Centre for Excellence in Universal Design, Dublin provides design professionals and relevant stakeholders with the necessary universal design guidance to create new homes or to retrofit existing housing stock in order to maintain, for as long as possible, the independence of people living with dementia to remain in their own homes and communities.
  • The Memory Strategy Group, Navan HSE, a cognitive and practical skills-based group geared towards people with early stage dementia, Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), or those who experience significant anxiety in relation to their memory. This project aims to maintain a meaningful life for those in the early stages of dementia by promoting the person’s independence, well-being and self-efficacy while minimising risk through teaching memory strategies, using assistive devices and home modifications.
  • SAGE Support and Advocacy for Older People will address the issue of supporting people with dementia to ensure that their will and preference are expressed and acknowledged in any decisions made about their care, support and life in the nursing home. 

Dementia Elevator is an education and empowerment programme developed by DCU and the HSE, with the support of Atlantic Philanthropies, to help individuals, communities and health systems engagement appropriately with people with dementia.