Dementia Care

ExtraCare's award-winning Enriched Opportunities Programme® (EOP) supports residents with dementia and dementia-related conditions. It is a pioneering joint research project between ExtraCare and the University of Bradford and has resulted in a programme of support that is now being rolled out across all ExtraCare housing Schemes and Villages. 

Specialist Staff - EOP Locksmiths

The programme offers tailored activities for those residents with dementia-related issues, aiming to reduce the disabling effects of the condition. The programme is implemented through specially-trained support workers known as EOP Locksmiths®.

The Locksmiths have a rich variety of backgrounds. One had a career painting motorbikes, one was an engineering buyer, and another was just 19 years old when he decided to become a Locksmith. Amanda Gallacher is the Locksmith at Berryhill Village in Stoke-on-Trent. Here, she explains her job.

ExtraCare’s EOP Lead Michael Spellman says: “They are called Locksmiths because they help to find the key, unlock people’s potential and unpick issues in their present experience of life.

“Quite often people who experience dementia also experience becoming a mystery to those around them, a mystery that advances as their condition does. A Locksmith is there to unpick the mystery and use what they learn to create better care and quality of life. Developing meaningful activity is a large part of that, but most of all not forgetting to have fun.”

Award-winning Research

In 2009 ExtraCare won the Healthcare and Medical Research category at the National Charity Awards for its pioneering work in supporting people with dementia. (For information about ExtraCare awards, click here.)

The award was given for the joint research with Bradford University which evaluated whether the Enriched Opportunities Programme® had enabled residents with dementia to remain in sheltered housing for longer, and the extent to which it was enhancing their quality of life, well-being and physical and mental health.

The research established that:

Residents in the programme were half as likely to need to relocate to nursing homes.

Residents were much less likely to feel depressed, and they rated their quality of life as significantly better.

There was a trend towards improved cognitive functioning with thinking, reasoning and understanding skills remaining intact for a longer.

The study showed that some of the behaviours associated with dementia that are often seen as a normal consequence of the disease process, are in fact challenges that can be tackled and minimised.

The programme directly helped 268 people, but the entire populations at ExtraCare's villages and housing schemes also indirectly benefited, as did the families of the targeted residents.

For full research results, click here.

Aging & Mental Health Journal: EOP article

Read the National Audit Office's report on the Enriched Opportunities Programme®.

The Programme at Work

One resident with dementia who had serious nutritional problems and was underweight made excellent progress following support from the EOP Locksmith®. The Locksmith was able to spend time with the lady, encouraging her to eat by identifying foods she previously enjoyed, looking at other options such as 'finger foods' and regular snacks and spending time with her during meals, allowing her to take her own time.

Another resident with dementia had lost his wife at Christmas. He appeared to be going through the grieving process and was expressing this through anger and frustration. He was also isolated and had never attended his scheme's social club. During the assessment process the EOP Locksmith found out that he was a keen pool and darts player. She asked him to come down to the social club for a game of snooker with her. With encouragement he has now joined the darts and snooker teams and he also attends tai chi, bingo and other activities. He now appears much happier and is sociable. The EOP Locksmith feels this is because she had the time to find out about his interests and encourage him to participate - otherwise he may have declined into depression.

The ExtraCare Charitable Trust is a member of the Dementia Action Alliance.

Resident Stories

Mike Robinson lives at Humber Court in Coventry. He remains positive, despite being diagnosed with early onset dementia two years ago. Read more about Mike here!