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My name is Deborah Hateley and I work for Warwickshire Libraries as Senior Librarian Priority Groups.

Warwickshire Libraries joined the Dementia Action Alliance in 2013, signing up to an action plan that we would endeavour to work towards. Libraries are a wonderful free community resource available for all and we were and are keen to ensure that all in our community are able to access the wealth that libraries offer. Our action plan would contain a focus on training, partnerships, events and promotions. And as a library of course, one area that we would want to look at would be the books that we could offer to support those with dementia, facing a diagnosis or those who may be looking for ways to support their loved ones.

Books are a superb tool to support the health and wellbeing of everyone in many ways – Reading for just 30 minutes a week can have a positive impact on your health and wellbeing – ‘Quick Reads’ in partnership with Dr Josie Billington, ‘Reading Between the Lines: the Benefits of Reading for Pleasure’, 2015. Books can also be used to support those with dementia and those caring for them and offer a way of communicating with people who may now find it difficult to understand the world around them.

Back in 2011 Warwickshire Libraries launched a new service called Books on Prescription, a collection of high quality self-help books covering a range of commonly experienced mental health issues, such as depression, anxiety and stress. The project was coordinated by a colleague, who developed links with a number of partners including Public Health, Coventry and Warwickshire Partnership Trust (CWPT), Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) and NHS Warwickshire. A further two collections aimed at children and young people, (Sorted!) and the parents and carers of young children (Mini Sorted!) were subsequently launched.

This collection contained four titles on dementia: ‘Understanding Alzheimer’s Disease & Other Dementias’ by Nori Graham, ‘Living Your Best with Early Stage Alzheimer’s’ by Lisa Synder, ‘A Personal Guide to Living with Progressive Memory Loss’ by Sandy Burgener and ‘Alzheimer’s and Other Dementias’ by Harry Cayton. As with all the titles in the BoP collection these books were available to borrow straight off the shelves or be prescribed by a GP or Health Professional.

Earlier this year The Reading Agency launched the Reading Well Books on Prescription Dementia collection. This is a national list recommending books that people may find helpful if they have dementia, are caring for someone with dementia or simply want to find out more about the condition. The collection is helpfully divided into four sections: information and advice, living well with dementia, support for relatives and personal stories. Warwickshire Libraries, along with other library authorities decided to purchase these collections to make them available to local library users. We were proud of the books we had in our original collection, but a new national collection encompassing 24 titles would give a much wider selection of choice and align us with both the regional and national offer. In the same way as the Warwickshire titles, books on this new national collection have been recommended by health professionals and selected using guidelines and quality standards for dementia care from NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) and other professional organisations.

Also included in the collections are Pictures to Share, a selection of illustrated books that help communicate with people with mid to late stage dementia as well as other brain injuries or stroke. Published by Pictures to Share, a community interest company set up by Helen Bate there are twelve titles already currently available in Warwickshire, bought as a result of a successful pilot project based in three Warwickshire care homes. Titles are available for loan from the larger libraries in Warwickshire as well as part of a longer term lending set aimed at care homes and day centres. They are a fantastic tool with a variety of photographs and pictures, both modern and vintage and including such topics as travelling, shopping, childhood days and a wonderfully titled ‘A Funny Old World’!

Reading Well Books on Prescription Dementia is available at our eight largest libraries; Atherstone, Bedworth, Kenilworth, Leamington Spa, Nuneaton, Rugby, Stratford on Avon and Warwick, but can, like other lending books, be requested and collected from any Warwickshire Library. As with the previous Books on Prescription collection these titles can also be prescribed by a GP or Health Professional.

We’re really proud to be able to offer this collection of books and hope that they may make a difference to those who are affected by dementia in whichever way. We will shortly be increasing the number held in Warwickshire making them available at all council run libraries. Further information about Reading Well Books on Dementia as well as the other Bop collections can be found on the Warwickshire Libraries webpage Warwickshire Books on Prescription.

Joining the library is free and easy. If you are not already a member pop into your local library with one form of ID and a member of staff will join you up. Alternatively you can join online here Join Warwickshire Library. Library staff are there to help so if you need any assistance or have any questions just fire away!

For more details on this article please contact us on dementiapartnership@warwickshire.gov.uk

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