Creating a Dementia Friendly Suffolk - March 11th 2021

Asking the Suffolk Health and Well-Being Board (The Top Bananas!) on March 11th to use their position and influence to not only “Make Suffolk a Dementia Friendly County” but also “Make Suffolk Dementia Pro-Active”.
As a founder member of The Suffolk and North East Essex Dementia Forum, over the past few months we have been developing proposals with the “vision” of every community and organization in Suffolk positively responding to and supporting every one of their friends, neighbours, residents, staff, customers, etc. who are struggling to cope with the impact of dementia on their lives. A tall order indeed, but to “start with a single step is the only way to make any difference in the long term”. Our plan is to seek investment and involvement in practical prevention, awareness/understanding, and active community-based support. This was the basis of a presentation to the Board introduced and sponsored by Georgia Chambani, the recently appointed Director of Adult Care, led by Sue Hughes, the independent chair of Healthwatch Suffolk Dementia Forum – And the Debenham Project did it’s bit – a real team effort! So, on March 11th, Georgia, Sue, myself, Caroline, and Rachael, made, as they say on The Apprentice, our “Pitch”. You can see the presentation here, and for those who are would like to know the details of what we were asking the Board to sign up to click here.

The presentation was highly praised and The Health and Well-Being Board fully and wholeheartedly accepted and endorsed our proposals and recommendations.  They are to be given priority and built in to the on-going programme of the Well-being Board. This is a very important step forward and hope for the future of dementia care in Suffolk. The challenge is to maintain the momentum and to build upon on it.

Assessing the value of The Debenham Project

Although we know that The Debenham Project is significantly helping those who are finding it difficult to live with the impact of dementia on their lives, the hard economics governing the NHS, the Local Authorities, and the Government demand statistical evidence that  our efforts are "cost effective". Also, The Charity Commission requires us, each year to show that we have delivered a social benefit commensurate to our charitable status. The following "Impact Statement" and "Case Study" were produced to demonstrate the achievement, quality, and effectiveness of the Project.

Impact Statement                    Case Study

How good is the provision of health and social care in and around Debenham?

Early this year the trustees considered what they might do to celebrate our 10th anniversary of the Project. They agreed that the Project should sponsor something special that would significantly benefit those in our community who are struggling to cope with the impact of dementia, and also the many other chronic illnesses of our elderly and frail residents. We are constantly bombarded with national statistics about the problems in the NHS and the Social Services, the lack of community support services, and the need for change. However, it is generally impossible to relate these figures to our own community. What is our everyday situation? How do we compare with the "national average"? What are our strengths and where are our  weaknesses? To seek answers to these questions The Debenham project has initiated a unique research project seeking to establish/measure/characterise the provision, availability, cost, and quality of health and social care for the elderly frail in our community. The University of Suffolk will be working with NHS Suffolk, Public Health, and Suffolk Social services to provide the answers. We believe that this study will not only provide us with facts to argue for local investment in our health and care services, but also to show how important it is for all Suffolk communities to review, understand and speak out about their local health and care services.

Evaluating Health and Social Care Provision - Summary of Benefits         

Evaluating Health and Social Care Provision

The Debenham Project goes to Wales and Wales comes to Debenham

Earlier in 2016 we were asked if we would share our experiences with active community groups, professionals and decision makers in Wales.  This was in connection with a Welsh Government initiative to improve post-diagnosis dementia support and community- based activities and services for the elderly and frail generally.  As a result Paddy and I participated in an event in Porthcawl, a team from the government came here to make a video contribution presenting 3 leading initiatives, the publication of an insight into The Debenham Project ("The Four Mile Rule"), and a number of opportunities for community groups in Wales to consult us by telephone and e-mail. Click here to watch the video (The Debenham Project is the second project that is featured).

The Vision Of Caring: A PowerPoint slide presentation - "A Community Tackling the Crisis of our Ageing Population"

The presentation is available here

The Debenham Project: a PowerPoint slide presentation - "Debenham - A Dementia Friendly Community"

The presentation is available here


The Project "Charitree": a few photos of an advent display in St. Mary's Church entitled " What the Debenham Project means to us" created by participants in the project. An unusual and unique user evaluation.

The Debenham Project - A briefing with recent highlights.

It is now just over 8 years since the public meeting took place which was pivotal in the way that Debenham and its surrounding villages are addressing the challenges of their ageing population. This paper briefly describes The Debenham Project and highlights it's recent developments and achievements. The reader will find more detail in the newsletters and Parish Magazine articles archived elsewhere on the website.

Download the paper

Putting it all together - The Vision of Caring -  A Description.

This paper presents the results of a 4 year study addressing the provision of health, social care and housing for the elderly-frail members of a typical large rural community in Suffolk. It argues that the current structures of the NHS and Social Services are not suited to coping with the challenge of providing quality care in the long term and that innovative solutions must be explored. As a result of this research one such approach has been identified - “The Vision of Caring” - which is predicted to not only deliver a quantum step improvement in overall care, but also to achieve economic savings in the region of 8 to 10% per annum. It is suggested that without a new structure for the care of the elderly-frail the NHS and Social Services will become overwhelmed irrespective of any increased commitments to funding them. It is believed that the “Vision” offers a new direction in the provision of care which both matches the aspirations and needs of an ageing rural population, and is also affordable.

Download the paper

The Debenham Project: Carers’ experiences in rural Suffolk

Between July 2012 and August 2013, the authors carried out an independent in–depth research project in partnership with the Debenham Project in Suffolk. They were trying to capture the experiences of carers of people living with dementia within a single community and to investigate what encourages or discourages families to seek early diagnosis and support. As far as we know, this is the first time that a particular local community has been the subject of such an in-depth analysis. The findings continue to be totally relevant today.

Download the paper published in The Journal of Dementia Care

Dementia Friendly Communities - A report prepared for the North-East Dementia Alliance

Download this report that mentions The Debenham Project on page 80

Harvest through the Ages

At the beginning of October, we had a very special event – “Harvest through the Ages”. It was a 2 day exhibition of the most wonderful scale models of farming wagons, carts, and tools, which was combined with a magnificent harvest flower display, and displays of “Olden Foods” and locally made traditional walking sticks. Over the 2 days we had more than 500 visitors from across Suffolk. So many thanks to everyone who helped create it, steward it, provide refreshments, publicise it, and everything else. Of course the exceptional weather made all the difference. Our aim was to celebrate harvest and display one of our carer’s (Nic Cass) models for one last time before we try to find them a home in a museum. We did not set out to make it a fundraising exercise so all we did was to put out a basket for donations to Dove Cottage and the project. Imagine our delight when upon tipping the money out we found that it amounted to almost exactly £500 which when added to the donations for refreshments organized by the church and the W.I. gave a grand total of £590.

Good News

Debenham Project has won the Probert Trophy which is awarded annually by Suffolk ACRE (Action for Communities in Rural England) for the best community achievement in Suffolk. It was presented to us at their AGM today. It is all down to the great goodwill, support and efforts of everyone involved. So congratulations and thank you indeed.

On this YouTube link is the long version of the nominations film for the Suffolk ACRE Probert Award and Campbell Cup

There is also a video of the award presentation and podcasts of the seminars and AGM here

Ipswich Town Football Memories

Debenham On Call and Carers Co-op

Update on Research Project

Breaking the Mould

View video on dementia from Suffolk Mental Health Partnership NHS Trust. Click here to visit their website

Video with subtitles for the hard of hearing

speaker clipart gifListen to interview with Lynden Jackson on Radio Suffolk 19th July 2010

Flexicare Handbook

Overview of The Debenham Project (October 2009)

Debenham Project Presentation (You will neede a Powerpoint Reader to open this file)

Prevalence and Growth of Dementia in the Debenham Area (July 2009)

Volunteer Task Areas (October 2009)

Executive Summary of the Debenham Project (July 2009)

Living Well with Dementia (A Suffolk Strategy) (2009)

Living Well with Dementia (A National Strategy) (2009)

Dementia UK (Report published by the Alzheimer’s Society (2007)

speaker clipart gif Listen to interview with Dr Paddy Fielder broadcast on Radio Suffolk 16th June 2009

Archived Articles from the Debenham Parish Magazine

April, May June July August

March, April, May, June, July, October, December

February, March April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November December

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, October, November, December

January, FebruaryMarchApril, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

January; February; March; April; May; June; July; August; September; October; November; December

January; February; March; April; May; June; July; August; September; October; November; December

; February; March; April; May; June; July; August; September; October; November; December

January; February; March; April; May; June; July; August; September; October; November; December

March; April; June; July; August; November; December

“If it is not good enough for my mother, it is not good enough”
A Debenham Project, NHS Suffolk, & Suffolk County Council
Conference – Workshop
12th June 2015

Post-Conference Report and Conference Digest

Autumn/Winter Review (Feb 2015)



Joseph Rowntree Foundation Research – “Widening Choices for Older People with High Support Needs”
In April 2012 Sian Lockwood visited Debenham to conduct a study of The Debenham Project as one of 6 case studies contributing to “Not a One Way Street” – a major Joseph Rowntree Foundation national research programme. This programme sought to explore how communities set up projects and organisations to support their elderly frail members. It has subsequently been renamed “Widening Choices for Older People with High Support Needs”. To see her case study which independently described and assessed The Debenham Project for JRF click on: JRF Case Study, Sian Lockwood, 2012
To see a summary and/or the full report of the “Widening Choices for Older People with High Support Needs” research click on:
JRF Research – summary                         or                                   JRF Research – full report

County-Wide Dementia Advisor Service Launched

Age UK, Suffolk Family Carers, and Sue Ryder have set up a new advice and information service (01473 353055) for all Suffolk residents with a diagnosis of dementia and their family carers . In addition, a 9 to 5 weekday telephone helpline (01473 353350) is now available. The Debenham Project is linked directly to this initiative and continues to offer its local advice and support (01728 862003), together with it's weekend confidential telephone support line (01728 861865).

Download leaflet

3rd Edition of the The Debenham Project Booklet published

Click on the image to download the booklet

This is the Debenham Project - 1st edition

This is the Debenham Project - 2nd edition

Archived Posters

Debenham Community Transport

Poster for A Friend in Need meeting on 12th September

Poster for Exercise Therapy Class

Poster for Education and Awareness Training on 2nd February 2011

Poster for Education and Awareness Training on 13th January 2011

Poster for Education and Awareness Training on 18th November

Poster for Education and Awareness Training on 6th October

Poster for Education and Awareness Training on 8th September

Tea Dance Poster

Poster for Food and Friends project

Poster for Carers Information Programme

Flyer for the launch of the Debenham Project

Blog and Catch–up Articles

February, August

Archived Newsletters

May; June; July; October; November; December

February; March; April; June; July; August; September; October; November

January; March; May; July; September; November

January; March; May; July; September; November

January, March, May, July, September, December


November, December