Changing the conversation about health

Healthy Living Club @ Lingham Court

CoM Tags:

Healthy living, lingham court, college of medicine, innovators network

A self-managing Club of people with dementia, carers, other older adults with acute needs & volunteers meeting weekly in Stockwell, Lambeth. The Club’s main aim is to foster a strong sense of belonging among members, drawn from within and beyond the extra care home where it meets.
Year established
The Healthy Living Club was launched in 2012, but the community which forms it has been meeting weekly, to engage in health-enhancing activities, since 2008
Number of staff
0.5 paid staff, plus some sessional contributors. There are 10 volunteers at each meeting out of a pool of 20. In addition some group members and their extended families volunteer their time on special occasions, and at fundraising events
Number of users
80 people
Is there a charge to users?
Joining the Club is and will remain free. Donations are welcome but no fixed contribution is required. Currently we are funded by 50% charitable grant, 10% donation and 40% fundraising.
What makes your project sustainable?
The fact that all decisions are taken collectively, from within, means that we can adjust expenses to income more flexibly than if we were fully incorporated into a larger body. Our independence from a larger organisation also ensures that all funds raised locally are used locally, and our future does not depend on strategic decisions taken elsewhere.Our approach is asset-based: we make the fullest use of capacity of every member – our great assets – and of other resources available in the wider community such as services provided free by other organisations. These include the outreach services of museums, reminiscence specialists, youth organisations and private companies.Environmental: minimising waste; using walking and public transport as much as possible; some gardening; attention to diet
Age range of members with dementia 52 – 92; most carers also elderly; 40% white British, 40% Caribbean, 20% other/mixed
• The Club challenges the concept that people who, in other contexts, are ‘patients’ need to be provided with a ‘service’ in order to socialise. Instead it demonstrates that people can take care of this need themselves simply: by meeting.
• We champion the idea that recreational and health-enhancing activities adapted to the needs of people with dementia provide opportunities for everyone else— carers, volunteers and other older people— to dance, sing, play and enjoy the health benefits.
• We transform a sheltered housing setting into a community hub, linking residents with members from across the locality.
• Because dementia is a condition which can progress unpredictably, our close relations with individuals enables the mix of activities, and the support needed by each, to be adjusted and thus for people to remain with us until a late stage.
• Our co-production approach ensures that we make the most of our greatest assets—our members—and extends to our formal governance in which all categories of members, so far as they are able— participate in planning activities and serving as Trustees.
• Dementia is normalised in our community.
• The main problem unsolved is continuing money to cover our very small basic costs.
Patient-Centred, whole person preventative approach
The lack of such a sense of belonging is an even stronger predictor of depression than isolation. Our object is to preserve, promote and improve the good mental and physical health of people with dementia and those who care for them through enabling their active participation in relationships of mutual support within a community of which they share ownership, thus replacing their sense of isolation with sense of belonging.Members represent a rich range of cultural backgrounds to which we try to respond in choice of music, reminiscence materials and so on. We cannot ‘prevent’ dementia but we contribute to the emotional and physical welfare and enjoyment of members with and without the condition, including carers. Contact with carers and family members helps us to understand the whole situation of members in most cases, and to respond.Our schedule of weekly activities provides routine, but also allows for flexibility. It was developed in response to the participants’ needs and/or requests, and will continue to develop incrementally, to take the changing needs of existing members, and the ideas brought in by new members into account.

At present our schedule is as follows:
11:00 tea/coffee, biscuits, informal peer-support, and chat
11.30 chair-based exercise class
12.15 Music, live performances, singing and/or dance
13.00 Lunch and informal peer-support
14.00 Various activities, offered on rotation, often simultaneously, in different rooms. These include drama, reminiscence and discussion groups, cognitive stimulation therapy, sensory activities, pet therapy, quizzes and other games. A carers’ group meets monthly.

Participants can drift in and out of the activities, and/or join an “art-table” throughout the day. Art appreciation sessions take place in a separate room periodically. Nail and make-up sessions are also available throughout the day, upon request.

Evidence informed practice/audit and evaluation
We keep abreast with the literature on dementia care, partly through very active two-way social media work with others in the field, conferences and frequent invitations to seminars and similar events.The community has evolved over nearly 5 years drawing on evidence from inside and from outside. From inside come the likes and dislikes, the preferences and discovered capacities of participants as their needs change. From the outside we benefit from research reports and the reported innovations of others. Much of what we do could be described as an ‘asset-based’ approach in that we value and use the skills, capacities and networks of our individual participants. We are also active in taking advantage of—and supporting—local assets like Lingham Court itself and the Time Bank. This is very much in line with the approach recommended by Jane Foot in her report What makes us healthy? The asset approach in practice: evidence, action, evaluation.Hitherto this community has produced periodic reports which are reflexive accounts, combining some quantification of members’ attributes with photographs and cameo narratives and explaining how and why practices have been modified over time. We are conscious that good practice in this field calls for multi-facet evaluation and hope to be able to include some asset mapping of kinship, fr
iendship and support networks for a sample of participants
Multi-disciplinary collaboration, and professional communication
Our members—people with dementia and without—are our greatest experts on what is needed. Their views and preferences determine what we do both informally from week to week and more formally through representation on our Trustees committee and focus group discussions.We all benefit, so far as we are able, from good practice and research in the field (keeping track largely via the internet) but we are not here as professionals and there are thus no disciplinary barriers to overcome. One qualified health-service professional comes as a voluntary private citizen and our part-time coordinator trained as a person-centred counsellor.Many of our volunteers were formerly carers for relations with dementia while others came new to the field. All exchange experiences and guidance in what amounts to a continuous training process overseen by the Committee of Trustees and collaborate in elaborating policies like risk assessment.
Quotes from users
“…She couldn’t remember what you did, but when I prompted her, she remembered singing and eating dinner. She said “I will keep going, because maybe I can meet some friends there.” I really think she is very lonely. She told me how she cared for her mother until she died in 1995 or so and then she cared for her Aunt. She retired about 10 years ago and said she hasn’t really got any friends locally, so I think this is a really positive thing for her” [social worker]”… this idea of having a carers group whilst the cared-for are otherwise occupied is brilliant!!””My mum absolutely loved it yesterday and is really looking forward to next Wednesday. I spoke to her last night and she was bubbling over with talk about her day, so thank you so much for making her feel so welcome…”
Contact details
The Club’s activities take place:@ Lingham Court
10 Lingham Street
SW9 9HFCorrespondence address:Unit 506
Strata Tower
508 Walworth Road SE1 6EE

e: General enquiries


The project is also on Facebook here.