5 Minutes With Jackie Tuppen, Founder of Cogs Clubs

5 Minutes With Jackie Tuppen, Founder of Cogs Clubs

Jackie Tuppen, founder of Cogs Clubs

Cogs Clubs are specialist day clubs that run throughout Kent for people affected by Dementia. They were designed by Jackie Tuppen, a local Admiral Nurse, and over the past decade they have become an integral part of life for many people with dementia in Kent. There are now over 20 Cogs Clubs in Kent, meaning you are sure to find one near your relative from the Cogs Club Address Book.

They are a fantastic resource for people affected by dementia in Kent, as well as their carers, for whom it provides a day of respite.

Jackie Tuppen kindly lent us some of her time to speak to us about Cogs Clubs, how they work, how she developed them, and the impact that they have had. We also discussed what carers of people with dementia can be doing during lockdown to make up for the loss of the clubs.

Hi Jackie, thanks for speaking with us. What was your inspiration for setting up and developing Cogs Clubs?

In previous roles as a Community Psychiatric Nurse, and Admiral Nurse, a particular carer kept asking me what was available for her and her husband. They would ask about where could he go that was not a day centre (“he’s not that bad”). She was also asking for herself as she needed a break, but not a long break like respite. Other carers were saying the same thing to me – that once a diagnosis had been given that was it for them until a review or a deterioration: whichever came sooner.

This request used to make me feel quite inadequate as I did not have an answer for her. No one was doing anything for this group of people. Her persistence led to my seeking an answer – which is Cogs Club.

What is Cognitive Stimulation Therapy, and how are Cogs Clubs based on it?

Cogs club discussion in Kent

Typically, Cognitive Stimulation Therapy (CST ) is a small group intervention for people who experiencing difficulties with their memory. It works by providing ideas for people to help themselves maintain their cognitive abilities, including group discussions and activities. CST aims to maximize people’s potential by building on strengths and developing relationships.

Cogs Clubs are based on the same principles as CST but they expand on this, – instead of a two hour session it is a day of activities with the same researched approaches. It is also a day of respite for relatives/carers.

How would you describe what happens at a typical Cogs Clubs day?

The day is divided into 4 sessions:

The first session is aimed at stimulating language by orientating ourselves to time, place and person, through greetings, word association exercises and discussions about the news. There is then a Tea Break at 11:00am.

Archery session at cogs club

Following this, at about 11.30am there are 1 – 3 activities based on 1 of the 14 themes in Cognitive Stimulation Therapy. There is then a Lunch break at about 12.30pm.

This is followed at about 1.15pm by movement to music. The next session starts at about 1.45pm when members choose activities which are based on concentration games such as scrabble, cards etc.

Around 2.30pm the activities end with a tea break where we discuss the day. All members depart by 3.15pm with a summary of their day for reference/ discussion at home.

What impact do you think Cogs Clubs have had on people with dementia in Kent?

The best way of looking at the impact they have had is looking at some of the responses we’ve had. Carers have told me that the clubs have been “excellent”, that they have “helped confidence”, provided much-needed respite, and been a “lifeline”.

Members have said that the clubs have helped to improve their concentration and make them more relaxed, and importantly that they have enjoyed spending time “with other people equal to myself”.

In 2015 people with dementia and their carers chose me to win the Kent Dementia “Volunteer” award and then in 2017 to be one of 3 Finalists for “Outstanding individual contribution”. I believe this all shows the impact and appreciation of Cogs and the principles that lead it.

You currently work as an Admiral Nurse – would you be able to explain a little more what Admiral Nurses are and what they do?

An Admiral Nurse is a registered Nurse who offers pre/post diagnostic advice, information and support (emotional and practical) to families living with dementia.

Cogs club members in Kent who have made their own pizza.

For example, if communication gets hard, we can offer skills and techniques to help you stay connected to your relative/friend. If someone with dementia is showing signs of fear or distress, we’ll work with you to find the best ways of preventing or managing this. If your family is struggling to cope, we’ll help you get the best possible additional care and support.

Admiral Nurses also have an Educative role with other professionals and organisations alongside helping to develop carer support networks/groups and clinics.

Where there are no Admiral Nurse services we offer The Admiral Nurse Dementia Helpline, which is available from Monday to Friday, 9:00am – 9:00pm, and 9:00am – 5:00pm at the weekends. They can be reached on 0800 888 6678, or emailed at [email protected].

You can search for Admiral Nurse Services near you in Kent on the Dementia UK website.

Do you have any advice for carers of people with dementia during lockdown?

To help reduce anxiety – limit the amount of time you (both) spend listening to current events on the television or radio. Spend time reminiscing about past events, holidays etc rather than focusing on the current restrictions in place.

Stay connected to people. If able, set up regular video calls with friends and family so you have something to look forward to. Keep yourselves entertained and active, even if this just means a walk around the garden or even the home. Cogs club members are able to receive weekly ‘homework activities’ by emailing their requests to [email protected].

Thank you.

If you are looking for other respite care options for your relative in Kent, with or without dementia, then you may be interested in our Guide to Respite Care in Kent. This includes respite homecare, day clubs and emergency respite.