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"Involve, Rehabilitate, Include and Support" is an innovative project developed by Alzheimer Portugal to provide support in rural areas

Sunday 22 August 2021

During the first year of Covid 19, in Portugal, day care centres were closed, so Alzheimer Portugal felt the need to find different ways of supporting people living with dementia and their family carers.

Avoiding cognitive decline, stress and depression and the loss of mobility were the main reasons for developing a new project named “IRIA - INSERIR, REABILITAR, INCLUIR, APOIAR (Involve, Rehabilitate, Include and Support), in the pandemic framework. This is a project developed in Pombal, a rural area located in the middle of Portugal where Alzheimer Portugal has a branch.

IRIA is the result of an application to the BPI “la Caixa” Rural 2020 awards. BPI is a bank that supports social initiatives. There are different stakeholders involved, namely local branches of the municipality. These are very important to provide room to organise individual or group meetings, allowing the proximity of the project to the population.

This is a very innovative project. A team of different therapists goes to each family home, where different activities and therapies are developed according to individual needs and wishes, with the aim of enhancing the quality-of-life and functionality of each participant. Social and psychological support, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, in-home training and self-help groups are some of the services delivered.

There is a van dedicated to the project, allowing the most hidden places and villages of the rural area of Pombal to be reached.

Currently, 16 people living with dementia and 19 carers are participating, free of charge, in this project. There are another 8 families on a waiting list to be evaluated, and for the definition of an individual intervention plan.

This project is an initiative that Alzheimer Portugal hopes to see multiplied in the framework of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) whose implementation is about to start. An investment of EUR 85 million is earmarked for “The Mental Health Plan Reform”, which includes the Dementia Health Regional Plans and measures related to the improvement of proximity services with special focus on home and community services and facilities.