Peer Support

Peer Support

Eric and Elaine Stephenson and Damian Murphy York

How can we harness the power and value of peer support for people living with dementia?

We are starting to understand the power and value of peer support for people living with dementia. Peer support is routinely advocated in policy and strategies for dementia care across the UK – but access to opportunities varies and the waiting lists can be long.

People with dementia are finding new ways of supporting each other through user-led influencing groups (see the DEEP website –, blogging and social media.

Some thoughts from people attending groups for people with dementia

“We’re all in the same boat and we don’t need to worry who is listening”

“I feel so much love and support in the group”

Like Minds – Oxfordshire


“It’s the best group I’ve ever seen”

FIT – Bradford

“Our group is a lifeline”

Friends together: Redditch and Bromsgrove

“It’s the most wonderful choir you’ve ever heard”

Vocal Flourish Choir: York

“I’ve never had so many laughs in my life. It’s a short life you have.”

“The group was a chance to share what was like having a rocket shoved up your backside.”

“This group pulled me out of it – because they’d been through it. They helped us come to terms.”

Springboard: Rochdale


“We’re just coming out of the shadows”

Dementia Working Group: Ireland



  • Dementia Peer Support Resource Pack

    The Health Innovation Network worked with The Alzheimer’s Society, Innovations in Dementia and community groups across South London to produce a Resource Pack to promote the importance of peer support opportunities for people with dementia. It brings together in one place evidenced based resources to help community groups and funders set up and run peer support groups, as well as guidance on how to make older people groups more dementia friendly. It includes films, case studies, policy and research related to the benefits of peer support, as well as resources on funding, staff training and evaluation of groups. It has been developed for the statutory, community and voluntary sectors that are working with, or commissioning/funding services for people with dementia. Thank you to AGE UK and Mental Health Foundation who also contributed resources.

  • Peer Support for People with Dementia: A social return on investment study

    The Health Innovation Network has published a report proving the social value of peer support groups for people with dementia is greater than the investment: for every pound (£) of investment the social value created by the three groups evaluated ranged from £1.17 to £5.18.

    The study found the benefits of attending peer support groups are:

    • reduced isolation and loneliness through meeting others in a similar situation
    • increased stimulation, including mental stimulation
    • increased wellbeing
    • for carers, a reduction in stress and carer burden.
  • Evaluation report – Peer support groups to facilitate self-help coping strategies for people with dementia in extra care housing

    Prepared by Lauren Chakkalackal from the Mental Health Foundation, and Dr Jayasree Kalathil from Survivor Research .

    This project involved the evaluation of three peer support groups for people in the early stages of dementia living in extra care housing. The aims of the groups were to:

    • enable participants to learn simple, practical coping strategies to deal with memory loss and other issues associated with dementia
    • help participants maintain or even reduce the level of care needs as practical coping improved
    • reduce social isolation and feelings of loneliness, increase social networks and interaction, and improve wellbeing of participants
    • Be sustained beyond the lifetime of the project itself and become an intrinsic part of the housing provision where they were located.

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