Changing the Face of Dementia Care in the South West

Award winning, social enterprise Memory Matters CIC, which runs the Moments Café in the heart of Plymouth, has received investment of £100,000 to franchise its innovative training package enabling it to be delivered to more people.  The investment came from the Health & Wellbeing Challenge Fund (South West) (H&WCF), managed by social impact investment company Resonance.

Dementia became the UK’s biggest killer in 2017, overtaking heart disease for the first time and it is a sad fact that one in three people over the age of 65 in the UK will be diagnosed with dementia.  Today there are approximately 650,000 people living with dementia in this country and this is estimated to double over the next 30 years, so it is unsurprising that many elderly people fear dementia more than a cancer diagnosis.

Memory Matters was set up by two specialist dementia nurses, Laura Walker and Kate Smith, who are determined to change the face of dementia support in the community using therapeutic approaches to memory loss and dementia, helping both people living with dementia and carers alike. It provides community based training and engagement sessions to people living with dementia, their families and health care professionals. This investment will enable it to expand the delivery of its training packages through workshops via franchisees, initially across the South West.

Memory Matters received an initial £10,000 Launchpad Loan from the H&WCF early in 2018 and alongside some Reach Funding, it worked to develop its franchise model.  Managing the investment over this period enabled them to develop a track record giving everyone the confidence for the enterprise to receive further investment.  This is the first organization that has converted from a Launchpad Loan to a full loan, demonstrating that a small injection can lead to larger loans being approved.

The Health & Wellbeing Challenge Fund is an impact investment fund established with investment from the Growth Fund and South West Academic Health Science Network (SWAHSN). The Growth Fund is managed by Access – The Foundation for Social Investment and is funded from the Big Lottery Fund and Big Society Capital. The Fund seeks to make social impact investment more accessible and relevant to smaller social enterprises looking to expand their operations and impact in the South West linked to the broad theme of Health & Wellbeing.

Champions of Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, a talking therapy proven to slow the progression of dementia, Kate and Laura identified a need to support people living at home with dementia, by providing a service both on a one-to-one basis and in a group community setting. Memory Matters provides training courses to health workers caring for those with dementia and they also run Activity Day Clubs in the community to enable those living with dementia to access Cognitive Stimulation Therapy and meet others with the same condition. The organization continues to improve what it offers, developing its services after listening to those living with dementia and their carers and the delivery of workshops to a wider audience, getting help to more people living with the condition is their priority.

Kate Smith said of this second investment from the Fund: “We are delighted to have been successful in gaining investment from the fund for this really exciting project. It means that we can increase our impact and most importantly that many more people living with dementia will have access to evidence-based cognitive therapy in their own community.”

Tom Crook, Senior Investment Analyst for the Fund talks about the investment journey: “I am delighted that we have been able to provide follow-on investment. Memory Matters has done a huge amount of work with limited resources since receiving the Launchpad Loan, and I feel it is in a really good place to expand its impact across the region.”