New website to help dementia carers serving in the RAF goes live

caring for someone with dementia

A bespoke online hub for people in the serving RAF community who are caring for family members with dementia has gone live.

The RAF Association has teamed up with Alzheimer’s Society and CGI to launch the hub, which is the first phase of its new Navigating Dementia project.

The hub, dementia.rafa.org.uk, has been created specifically for people in the serving RAF community who are caring for family members with dementia. It complements the support already provided by the RAF by linking them with other RAF carers and families affected by dementia, providing a vital knowledge hub and steering them towards further resources and support.

Rory O’Connor, Director of Welfare and Policy at the RAF Association, said:

“There is a wealth of published evidence that suggests serving RAF personnel and their families face challenges in such situations, such as frequent relocation and deployment. Caring for a parent with dementia when not living close to them is an issue that many RAF families face.”
Research by Alzheimer’s Society shows an estimated 70,000 people with an RAF background have dementia. In 2018 an RAF Association study, which sought to understand the social, geographical and biological characteristics of the RAF community, revealed that 9% of serving RAF personnel had unpaid caring responsibilities for an older adult.

Rory added:

“We knew from our research and pilot projects that members of the serving RAF community wanted to be able to find relevant information in one place and to link with other people in similar circumstances.

“We have therefore created a hub featuring a discussion forum, ‘ask the expert’ webinars, an events calendar and opportunities to plan self-supporting groups and meet-ups. There are also links to resources and information including regional dementia support contacts, and space for people to share their stories and answers to frequently asked questions.

“We aim to strengthen connections to other RAF families with similar experiences, enhance resilience, and improve understanding of how to support someone affected by dementia.”

The online hub has been created with generous pro-bono support from CGI, a leading defence and security software and IT services supplier.

Rachel Huxford, Director of Fundraising, Marketing and Trading at the RAF Association, said:

“We are very grateful to CGI for developing this important new resource with us. Their expertise, which is testament to CGI’s impressive commitment to supporting the UK’s military community, will directly benefit dementia carers.”

Neil Timms, CGI’s Senior Vice-President of Space, Defence and Intelligence in the UK, said:

“Sadly, dementia affects many families, so we were delighted, as part of our commitment to corporate social responsibility, to support the RAF Association in creating the Navigating Dementia platform.

“It is vital that we use digital channels to enable communities to access the information and support they need wherever they are. Given the current challenging times, I am very proud of the joint RAF Association and CGI team that has made this happen so quickly.”

Colin Capper, Head of Research Development and Evaluation at Alzheimer’s Society said:

“We’re delighted to see the launch of this new online hub, which will make a huge difference to the dedicated carers of people with dementia in the RAF family. Our Innovation team worked closely with the Association to tackle the real-life challenges faced by people affected by dementia.

“Getting access to crucial face-to-face support services is difficult for many carers, particularly during the current pandemic which has hit people with dementia hard. Navigating Dementia is a fantastic example of a practical solution.

“This online hub will make the world of difference, not just to the carers themselves who may be feeling isolated and struggling to get respite, but to the people with dementia they care for.”

A grant of £70,000 awarded to the project by the Armed Forces Covenant Trust will enable the Association to broaden the reach of the new online hub to the wider RAF community, supporting veterans as well as serving families.

Phase two of the project will begin later this year with the launch of face-to-face training courses for serving RAF personnel and their managers. This element of Navigating Dementia is being supported by the RAF Association’s High Wycombe Branch.

Rory O’Connor said:

“Before Navigating Dementia, there was no support hub specifically for people in the serving RAF family affected by dementia. Dementia remains a national health priority, and we are responding to the needs of the people the Association serves, and to the national health and social care agenda.”

For more information about the RAF Association, please visit the website.

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