On a crisp (ok, very cold) and bright morning it was great to see such a good turnout for the Herefordshire Dementia Friendly Communities Conference at the lovely setting of Grange Court in Leominster on 22nd November. Around 80 people from various organisations, services and locations braved the chilly conditions and were rewarded with a warm welcome and a packed day full of interesting presentations and workshops.
With Phillipa Bruce-Kerr at the helm, we heard first from Professor Dawn Brooker providing an overview of the MeetingDem project and support for Meeting Centres, followed by Jacinta Meighan-Davies and Simon Lennane who informed us about plans for the Herefordshire and Worcestershire dementia strategy for supporting people with dementia and their carers to be diagnosed, live and die well with dementia. The presenters also considered community issues more widely, including isolation and loneliness, especially for older people.
Ginnie Jaques, Penny Allen and Cheryl Poole did a triple act on Dementia Friendly Communities, providing information on the current state of play in Hereford, Leominster and Ross as part of work to make Herefordshire a dementia friendly county.
We also heard about what’s going on in existing Meeting Centres and some of the challenges they’re facing, from the people who run them and their members. Droitwich Spa (Mike Watts), Leominster (Janette Pudsey, Joy Valentini, Liz Dedman, Dawn Daw), Powys (Yvie George) and Ross (Sue Murphy).
Following a short break we had a whistlestop tour of what’s going on around the county in terms of dementia friendly communities, and it turns out it’s quite a lot!! We heard from 2gether Trust, Admiral Nurses, Age UK, Alzheimer’s Society, Churches2Gether, Co-op, The Courtyard, Everybody Dance, Healthwatch, Herefordshire Care Homes, HVOSS (Herefordshire Voluntary Organisations Support Service), Primary Care Hub, and Services for Independent Living. It was also great to hear from Andy Stevenson about the ‘Usurpers’ group he’s part of, where people with dementia are involved in carrying out audits to see whether places are dementia friendly.
Two rounds of workshops, one before lunch and one after, generated a lot of useful discussion, focusing on four key topics:
- Making your community dementia friendly
- Dementia Meeting Centres
- Arts, culture and dementia
- Carers, relationships and dementia.
There was a good deal of interesting feedback and actions to take forward.
After a tea break a short Tai chi session led by Enid Gill brought the group back together, helping it to focus on next steps with Cheryl and Jacinta.
Many notes were taken and connections made between everyone, showing a real linkage between organisations, services and individuals across the county. Hopefully this event will be just the start of a new phase of activity. To sum up the day, we learnt that it’s all about valuing people, treating them with dignity, having fun, and the importance of proper coffee.
We would like to say a special thank you to the Co-op as the conference was funded by the Co-op Members Community Fund.