Our treatments

Our ambitions

Our co-founder, Jonathan Hanbury, has built on 20 years of nursing and elderly care experience to launch an innovative model for dementia treatment in Devon. He passionately believes that through therapeutic intervention we can not only improve individuals quality of life but slow the rate of cognitive deterioration.  At The Ness, we place a great emphasis on measuring and tracking the progress of the disease, using validated NHS tools.  More info.

Treatment & therapy we offer

At The Ness we have 2 core beliefs; that you can slow dementia progression down, significantly improving an individual’s quality of life through psychosocial treatment. Secondly through the use of therapeutic activities & therapies The Ness can maintain an individual’s cognitive function, improve their social engagement and enable them to remain in their home & independent for longer.

In order to achieve this outcome and prove the impact of psychosocial intervention we utilise a range of evidence-based therapies.

Once you have requested a space at The Hub you will be called back by one of our specialist nurses who will go through a few questions before organising a face to face assessment.

Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) is the most widely used and best-known dementia therapy in the UK today. The model was created by Aimee Spector and uses a therapeutic framework to help stimulate different parts of your brain from language, numeracy, facial recognition, imagination and so many others. The research suggests that for those in the early to moderate stages or living with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) CST can be as effective as medication. For many years the NHS prescribed the therapy as a first line of treatment. We would highly recommend families seeing this as an essential part of the treatment plan for newly diagnosed individuals.

Alongside CST there are a number of other therapeutic activities that have been shown to improve a person’s self-esteem, quality of life and engagement. These activities are run by Ness professionals to support individuals at all stages of the disease pathway. The approach should be person centric, not all individuals are creative, not all individuals are musical, however, these activities when used professionally can enable an individual, maintaining independence and bringing huge pleasure. This includes art therapy, using music and singing, using aromatherapy and touch/taste to spark conversation or feelings.

Cognitive Rehabilitation Therapy (CRT) was originally designed for adults living with brain injury but recently there has been increasing evidence suggesting the technique can be used with those living with dementia. CRT is designed to be used 1:1 to help an individual continue to achieve simple tasks that allow them to be independent. It is a goal orientated therapy with goals being set prior to starting; like being able to make a cup of tea or taking the dog for a walk and then working towards achieving agreed goals. The Ness runs both a dedicated CRT course and has adapted CRT so that we use some of the techniques in our group based work as well as 1:1.

There has been some recent research into the benefits of using memory exercises particularly in the early stages of memory loss. Mnemonic strategy uses associative memory strategies for example key words that link someone to a memory, or use of strategies called chunking, putting information into chunks which allows us to more easily recall that information. The Ness have devised ways to use some of the techniques in mnemonics to help maintain an individual’s memory.

At the Ness we know how important it is to keep moving, to encourage physical exercise regardless of age or ability. However, we have also explored the use of using your brain and body simultaneously to improve cognitive function. The Ness Brain Gym uses simple movements at the same time as talking, singing, word association or numeracy. There is evidence to suggest this excites two separate parts of our brain in synergy helping improve social engagement and memory. It’s also just fun and filled with laughter. Physical therapy is used at the start of every cognitive session and we have developed our own Brain Gym exercises.

Polyvagal theory was written about by Dr Steven Porges in his work with children and trauma. Polyvagal theory defines the ways our autonomic nervous system react to experiences and regulates our response, i.e fight/flight or to freeze/withdraw. This has 3 organising principles Co-regulation, neuroception and the autonomic hierarchy (safe/secure or ventral vagal, fight/flight or sympathetic and freeze/withdraw or dorsal vagal). Polyvagal theory states that 80% of the information directing the autonomic nervous system comes up the vagal nerve from our gut, our heart, our lungs rather than our brains.

In exploring Dr Porges work Jonathan recognised the polyvagal/parasympathetic symptoms in many of the clients he works with and the potential to use simple exercises to unlock the negative symptoms and improve an individual’s social confidence, trust and body regulation. Today we use a few of these simple techniques in our sessions and in particular with individuals who are highly anxious, confused or apathetic. We continue to collect research into this area.

Mike’s case study

Read about how Mike came to The Ness Care Group, the therapy he has been receiving, and how our Active Minds sessions have not only helped with his social confidence and mood, but also allowed him to retain his independence.

Mike reached out to us soon after he was diagnosed with dementia. He was living on his own and wanted to maintain his independence and his cognitive function. Mike was in his early 70’s a recently retired accountant, with an active life but he knew that he wasn’t pushing his memory.

Our Active Minds (AM) dementia day care centre service was designed for individuals living with mild to moderate memory loss. It uses a therapy called Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST) to maintain an individual’s memory, to delay the progression of Alzheimer’s and other similar dementia diagnosis.

Mike started joining a small group session every Wednesday morning. The group consisted of 4 people and a specialist facilitator each week they would talk, discuss topics of interest and the facilitator would prepare a carefully targeted stimulating session that pushed their minds through words, numbers, reminiscence or other systems. Each session lasted around 2 hours and there was lots of laughter, engagement and fun. Mike engaged really well and family/friends noticed an immediate increase in his language, his social confidence and his mood.

A year later Mike now attends for 2 sessions a week. They are the highlight of his week and he continues to communicate well. We have been measuring Mike from the moment he started with us and each week the facilitator has taken a set of measures to gage his communication, his memory, his executive function, happiness, movement and social engagement. What has been so amazing over the year is that in each of the measured fields Mike has remained completely stable we have noted no decline in his memory or communication. Probably more importantly he continues to remain living alone, independent and even moved house during the year (a stressful process for even the most mentally & physically well).

The group he joined on a Wednesday morning over a year ago have become good friends and support each other through advice, emotional support and the laughter they share in the sessions. Mike is why we run Active Minds, he shows us that we can delay decline, we can continue to remain independent and we can have a full social life!