Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Counselling People with Dementia: a feasibility study investigating the potential for accessible therapy delivered through a social enterprise model


Gillian Matthews, PhD, and Heather Wilkinson, PhD

Competition Sponsor:  UK Research and Innovation

We want to test an accessible, community-based, counselling model to help meet the emotional health and well-being needs of people with dementia.
There is a clear gap in counselling for people with dementia (PwD) and carers. The people I interviewed spoke about difficult emotional challenges linked to their experience of loss and concerns about the future. Currently, counselling interventions are poorly accessed by PwD and under-researched. Most therapists have no training in this area and typically, those working in dementia services have no counselling skills. Despite support being a Human Right for PwD, many health staff and therapists are not aware of the potential benefits of therapy. It is clear from my interviews that this is not true.
I want to work with Zinc, PwD, carers and counsellors to develop an accessible counselling model that can significantly improve the mental health of PwD and others. Firstly, we need to test the research methods. and then test the dementia-friendly counselling model.
Success means that a) PLwD, carers and counsellors are involved in the research process ensuring our ideas and methods are ethical, creative and fit for purpose; b) Using the findings from testing the methods, counselling process, and potential investor feedback, we co-create a tiered counselling training and delivery package for use across different public services, the third sector, community groups and businesses; c) Sale and delivery of the package enables accessible and tailored counselling opportunities, helping to tackle loneliness and stigma; d) PwD and carers can choose how and where they access therapeutic support.

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