Our daughter, Annelie, has been giving me a hand with The Bine project recently, and this morning she was visiting a local dementia daycare centre, finding out more about the kinds of activities already offered.
When she came back, she was bursting with ideas and observations. She’d met some lovely people, and had a very useful conversation with the area manager about one of the Bine-style ideas we’re hoping to try out with them – a little local ‘beautification’ project. (More about that in a post coming soon.)
But although the morning went really well, there’d been one big problem. Annelie wasn’t there to ‘sell’ the idea of The Bine, but people were curious to know why she was being introduced to them. When she told them that her mum had Alzheimers and we were working on a new approach to dementia care, they wanted to know more. What was it all about? How was it different from the care already available? She found it hard to give a short answer.
Annelie spent two years in Australia but still followed everything I was writing while she was there. And since she got back three weeks ago, we’ve been talking lots about The Bine, and she’s been coming with me to all our meetings. So if she still finds it difficult to explain what our project’s about, then I’m sure that many of our other readers and followers will feel the same.
So what is The Bine?
In the last six months I’ve written over a hundred articles and stories about it – or related to it, at least. I can (and often do) talk for hours about all the benefits of our transformational approach to dementia care. But have I got a two-minute explanation? Honestly, no.
So we need what, in business, they call an elevator pitch. You’re standing next to a complete stranger waiting for the lift. You have until you reach your destination on the 15th floor, to stoke the stranger’s interest in your idea or product and persuade them to invest or buy – or at least to invite you to come by and tell them more.
The dementia dilemma
Dementia is not only a tragedy for the 850,000 people affected in the UK and their families. The £26.4 billion annual cost of dementia is crippling our social care system and our local authorities, both so desperately short of funds.
Over 50% of the total is spent on full-time residential care.
Why are over 300,000 people with dementia in the UK in care? Most of them say they’d prefer to live at home. And by no means all of them are in the late stages of the illness.
It’s because dementia is care-intensive, and there’s often no-one available to give the full-time supervision and assistance required. Professional care agencies may provide an hour or so of support a day, but it’s not enough. So it’s left up to family members to provide. Some may be unwilling or unable to give up a career. Others may decide to devote themselves to the task, but as years pass, the stress of full-time care often leaves them weary and broken.
In these circumstances, residential care is the only answer.
We aim to create the conditions where family dementia carers no longer need to sacrifice their careers or suffer from burn-out, allowing loved ones with dementia to continue living at home for years longer than at present.
Our intention is to reduce the stress on family finances and local authority budgets on a national and international scale.
But while we see this as a cost-cutting exercise, we are equally committed to raising the bar in the quality of dementia care, and in particular to show incontrovertible evidence that we have increased the wellbeing of those with dementia, their carers and their families.
The Bine is a network of day centres, where people with dementia will meet during working hours for up to seven days a week. Well supported by care professionals and trained volunteers, they will be engaged in a number of meaningful, purposeful activities, many of them serving the interests of the wider local community.
Meanwhile their carers will be freed from their care responsibilities for eight hours a day. They will, however, be encouraged to assist at The Bine for two days each week (or more if they wish). These two days of service will entitle their loved ones with dementia to free membership at The Bine.
Each Bine Centre will be an independent entity – in many cases, an existing daycare centre may choose to join the Bine network, or a business currently providing homecare services may decide to set up a Bine Centre as a more efficient way to help people with dementia to continue living at home.
The role of The Care Combine will be to set and maintain quality standards, to provide resources for training, activities and administration, to negotiate with professional advisors, suppliers and sponsors on behalf of the network, to take the lead in research, and to promote the Bine.
The Escalator Pitch
The explanation’s still a bit long: you’d need to be in a slow elevator or travelling up a lot of floors together to get all of that in. But I’ve assumed we know nothing about the person we’re explaining to. In reality, it probably won’t be like that. In most cases we’ll know whether it’s:
- Someone living at home with dementia
- Their carer
- Someone who has at least one parent living at home with dementia
- Someone who organises or participates in dementia groups
- Someone who’s concerned about the cost of dementia – a local councillor or politician, maybe, or someone who provides care services
- A medical professional who sees lots of patients with dementia
- Someone with no personal or professional involvement with dementia, but who loves volunteering and getting involved in worthwhile social causes.
Try it yourself. Next time I’ll tell you what I’d say.
Also coming shortly: The Care Combine’s 6-month performance review – and an ‘achievement plan’ for the next 6 months.
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