Ann Pascoe's Story

Author: Ann Pascoe
Ann Pascoe's Story

Ann travelled to India, where she learned about enabling lay people to detect early symptoms of dementia and carer stress.

The Fellowship

In 2002 Ann and her husband Andrew retired to Portgower, in the heart of the rural Highlands of Scotland. When Andrew was diagnosed with vascular dementia four years later, Ann began to realise just how isolated they were. As a carer, she had very little understanding of the challenges and stigma surrounding the condition, and there was limited support available to her. By 2012, Ann decided that she needed to do something to address the situation, and applied for a Churchill Fellowship.

Ann had heard Dr Amit Dias speak at the Alzheimer’s Disease International Conference in Toronto, and was intrigued by Dias’ strategy of using ordinary lay people to detect early symptoms of dementia and carer stress. As part of her Fellowship, she travelled to India to investigate how his grass roots home care project works to reduce caregiver burden, promote caregiver mental health and reduce behavioural problems in dementia patients. She returned to Scotland brimming with ideas and ready to put her learning into practice.

The Results

Together with a few like-minded people, Ann established a local social enterprise, Dementia Friendly Communities (DFC), with the simple aim of recognising and embracing the challenges a life with dementia presents to the families affected, and enabling them to live life to the full.

In under a year DFC grew from strength to strength, taking significant steps towards raising the profile of dementia and drawing together strong support across the community. Their Collaborative now has 18 partners, all sharing a vision of transforming the rural community into a dementia friendly one by bringing the existing Scottish Dementia Strategy down to grassroots and making a real, lasting difference to individuals, families and the local community. The website provides online support and resources, and task groups have been formed to tackle specific issues, such as awareness raising for local businesses.

Ann has been appointed Trustee of Life Changes Trust, a £50 million initiative set to transform the lives of two specific groups - young people who are in the process of leaving care, and people with dementia and their carers.

DFC has won widespread support, and succeeded in raising the profile of dementia in Scotland and beyond. Ann was invited to join the Prime Minister's rural dementia communities task and finish group which has just been awarded a further two years of funding. DFC is also in partnership with NHS Highland and Alzheimer Scotland) as one of five Scottish Government test sites to test Scotland's Dementia Strategy. Most recently, Ann has joined the NHS Highland Board as a non-executive director.