Helping more people live well in the community, Essex: groups

Read about a project in Essex that gave personalised care to people in Essex, helping to improve the experiences of people with dementia. 

Image shows people at the bowling club they set up in Essex.

The Purpose:

To help more people live well with dementia in Essex by continuing with day to day and family life, without discrimination or unfair cost, being accepted and included in communities and not living in isolation or loneliness.  (note: this aligns with one of the Dementia Statements.)

To deliver on the Essex Dementia Strategy


A new contract was a catalyst for increased engagement to find out, and act on, what matters to people with dementia for living well in Essex. The team began testing out new approaches and making changes to dementia cafes. The team began developing local Dementia Action Alliances to ensure that people affected by dementia are included in the decision making process and local services become dementia-aware.

What happened:

Dementia cafes became 'information hubs', working as time-limited groups.

  • to encourage and enable service users and the community to engage in activity together they meet in a wider range of community venues, often alongside mainstream services
  • service users are provided with a range of options to find out what they would like to do next to live well in their community as the activity comes to an end.

The results:

The team enabled more people to continue to be active in their local communities, choosing to do the things that matter to them.

  • Some dementia-specific groups have moved across to community providers.
  • Some dementia-specific groups have gone on to use community-based activity rather than dementia-specific services. For example, members of a dementia café said they would like to do short-mat bowling. So the team set up a time-limited group to do this with them. Some of the members wanted to continue to meet at the bowling club. The team found the bowling club was supportive of this idea. The team helped with an application for funding to enable people with dementia, and carers, to continue to meet at the bowling club.
  • Some new groups have emerged, where groups might otherwise have had to be closed: When a snooker group for people with dementia did not have enough members to be sustainable, by finding out about the experiences other people with dementia wanted to have, the team discovered it would work well to merge the snooker group with a peer support group for people with dementia, to play snooker as a new 'motivational' group at a local leisure centre. It has worked well. The partners of the people with dementia have also chosen to meet together, for peer support.
  • Given the positive feedback and outcomes for people with dementia, and carers, so far, the team have continued to use this method of consultation with all our time-limited groups including walking groups and table tennis sessions. In the next part of the year the team are planning yoga and relaxation sessions, an art group and cooking.

What changed for people with dementia

  • ‘I have learnt a new skills, which shows that people with dementia can learn new things’ (bowling club member with dementia)
  • ‘My husband used to attend another bowls group.  He has played for years.  As his dementia progressed, he was asked not to go back to his old club.  We were both so upset because we thought these people were our friends.  Since he came along here, he has not stopped smiling.  He was so glad to be doing something active again and feeling part of a group’.  (partner of bowling club member with dementia)

Learning points

Working in an integrated way under the Essex Dementia Strategy has encouraged sharing. Examples, such as the creation of the bowling club, have been shared by the commissioner with other services and teams across Essex to encourage them to learn from the approaches taken, and to consider whether they might be able to do something similar where they are. 

Key contact to find out more:

Alzheimer's Society's team in Essex. Email: [email protected].