Researchers from Lab4Living at Sheffield Hallam University have launched an online resource to support people with dementia and their families during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Connecting People, Connecting Support is an online space where people with dementia, family members and care staff can access research-informed resources that promote quality of life.

Dementia is a condition that currently affects over 850,000 people in the UK. Covid-19 has meant that many individuals who would ordinarily attend day centres for support are now confined to home. This is creating challenges for the person with dementia and family members who are not given access to the space, stimulation and respite they need.

Connecting People, Connecting Support seeks to support individuals at this time by providing a focus for interactions and engagement in meaningful activity. The structure revolves around conversation starters, things to try, games to play and signposts to other resources.

Dr Claire Craig, co-director of the design-led research centre Lab4Living, said: “We have been working with Elaine Hunter, a national allied health professions consultant at Policy and Research for Scotland, who has been implementing our post-diagnostic support programme, Journeying Through Dementia. When we heard of the challenges facing people living with dementia and their families as a consequence of Covid-19, Elaine saw the potential to make this available to everyone.”

Researcher Helen Fisher added: “Rather than releasing everything at once, we will offer two themes each week to provide a focus and something for people to look forward to. The Tuesday theme focuses on helping individuals to manage the practical challenges that living with dementia brings and the Friday theme shares creative and expressive activities. The themes range from managing routine through to music, photography and holiday at home.”

Connecting People, Connecting Support experienced more than 2,000 site views over the first three days and the team has been inundated with feedback from people with dementia, family members and carers.

The team is also encouraging people to develop their own resources for the website, based on activities that they know work for them. The plan is to make printable versions of the information and activities available for support workers for their home visits to people with dementia.

Helen added: “At a time like this, one of the most moving things has been the way that communities have come together. Occupational therapists, artists, musicians and people with dementia are contacting us from across the country – from Brighton to Aberdeen – and people are really keen to share their ideas and offer support. One of the key areas of our research is the role of design in supporting compassionate communities and this outpouring is testament of the kindness and generosity of spirit that exists. It’s a real privilege to be involved in research at Lab4Living and to see the impact it can make.”

Lab4Living recently secured a significant grant from Research England to develop its world-leading research. The focus of the team’s work is in exploring the role of design to support health and quality of life.

Follow @Lab4Living @AHPdementia and @AlzScot on Twitter or Instagram for regular updates and ways to get involved. Visit Connecting People, Connecting Support here.