Fold Housing tackles the dementia challenge

1 June 2010

Fold Housing Association has today (11th May 2010) launched a revolutionary new mobile therapy unit for people diagnosed with dementia.

Fiona Phillips and Health Minister Michael McGimpsey were at Belfast City Hall today to officially unveil the initiative, which has been named the Fold Brain Bus. An ex-GMTV presenter, Ms Phillips has been vocal about her experiences in caring for her father with dementia.

With its distinctive pink and purple exterior, the mobile unit is unlikely to be missed on the roads of Northern Ireland, and has been so designed to help raise awareness of dementia and dementia-related issues.

"There has been so much negativity surrounding the significant challenges to our society posed by dementia. But today we are launching a new support alternative that can make a real difference to helping people with dementia maintain independence, a sense of control and dignity," said Eileen Askham, Director of Care Services at today\'s launch.

The Fold Brain Bus is believed to be the first of its kind in Europe and contains leading-edge technology that enables people with dementia to engage in cognitive and physical activities, which aims to help reduce depression, agitation and stress levels.

It is an innovative tool that can be adapted to the user\'s specific interests and memories and can also be used by families and carers as a basis for improving social interaction. Its ultimate aim is to contribute to improved quality of life for people with dementia.

Eileen continued: "Fold Housing Association has long been proactive in seeking innovative ways to improve engagement and quality of life for people with dementia and we are extremely excited to be launching this initiative today. Longer-term we feel the mobility of the Fold Brain Bus will also help to tackle the care and diagnostic challenges posed by the rising numbers with this condition by improving access to leading-edge therapy technologies for people throughout Northern Ireland."

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said: "Today represents a very positive step forward in the continued development of dementia services in Northern Ireland. It is very pleasing and encouraging to see innovative developments such as the \'Brain Bus\'. The technology on board will hopefully help reduce depression, agitation and stress levels for people with dementia, ultimately contributing to an improved quality of life and it will help restore a sense of control and dignity to their lives.

"I wish to commend Fold Housing Association on their dedication and hard work in developing this service, which is the first of its kind in Europe. Not only has this hard work resulted in a new service for people with dementia, but it also acts as a platform for raising awareness of the condition."

The Minister concluded: "I want to congratulate everyone involved in the development of the \'Brain Bus\'. I am sure that it will make a significant difference to the lives of many in Northern Ireland who suffer from dementia, as well as to their families and carers."

About Dementia

Dementia refers to a condition that causes deterioration of the brain’s capabilities, including language, memory, understanding and judgement. Symptoms can vary depending on the person, but can include: forgetfulness, confusion, difficulty in finding the right words, and mood or behaviour problems.

The likelihood of developing dementia increases with old age, but it can affect people of any age. Although there are many causes of dementia, for example, vascular dementia, alcohol-related dementia and dementia caused by mini-strokes, Alzheimer’s is the most common cause.

About the Fold Brain Bus

The Fold ‘Brain Bus’ is a revolutionary mobile therapy unit for people diagnosed with dementia. It contains leading-edge technology that helps to deliver engagement for people with dementia through cognitive and physical exercises, which are proven to reduce depression, agitation and stress levels.

The interface is personalised for each user and provides an additional tool for social interaction by families and carers, ultimately resulting in improved quality of life for the person with dementia.

As a mobile unit, the Fold Brain Bus will improve access for people with dementia throughout Northern Ireland, whether in care homes or private housing, thus helping to tackle the care and diagnostic challenges posed by the rise in numbers with this condition.

Believed to be the first of its kind in Europe, the Fold Brain Bus has been established by Fold Housing Association, an organisation that has long been proactive in seeking innovative ways to improve the quality of life for people with dementia. It is based on It’s Never 2 Late (IN2L) adaptive technology developed in the United States and has been funded by The Atlantic Philanthropies.

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