Our Family Care Symposium which took place on 12th June provided a great opportunity to share our work with a wider audience but also to celebrate the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) being established 10 years ago.
The afternoon was opened by Professor Dawn Brooker who reflected on the past ten years and how ADS has evolved and grown during that time, but also considered where we’re heading in the years to come.
Next was Marleen Prins, a visiting colleague from the Netherlands who has been working with ADS for the past couple of months. She talked about the work she’s been involved with relating to psychosocial support for family carers in the Netherlands, comparing it to the situation in the UK. We also heard about online training that had been developed in the Netherlands for family carers, and a virtual reality (VR) intervention where people can experience what it is like to have dementia. Hopefully we will be able to try the VR set for ourselves next week when one of Marleen’s colleagues visits us.
She was followed by Dr Simon Evans who gave a whistlestop tour of the Meeting Centres programme. It was strange to realise that our involvement with Meeting Centres actually began seven years ago, and is still going strong. (We do talk about Meeting Centres a lot, but if you’re not aware of what they are please have a look at one of our previous blogs). The video clip Simon showed was powerful, hearing about Meeting Centres from the people who actually go there and more clips are available on our website (scroll to the bottom of the page). It was also great to hear from a member of the audience who has visited and worked with Meeting Centres and seen the difference they can make.
Chris Russell, one of our PhD students, was up next, providing an insight into his research around the experiences of people with dementia and carers taking part in physical activity in leisure centres. We head how he has used a participatory approach, joining in with various sports and activities rather than being a passive observer (Zumba anyone?). We had the opportunity to hear about some of Chris’s early findings relating to how family carers enable their family members to engage with sport and maintain their social citizenship, but also what family carers get out of sport for themselves and how they engage with the world.
The final speaker of the session was Professor Tracey Williamson, our Dementia Carers Count Professor of Family Care, who looked at existing courses and interventions available for carers and the courses offered by Dementia Carers Count. She discussed courses specifically for family carers with a focus on communication, looking at some of the issues around their theoretical underpinning, evidence base, and the sustainability of any impact resulting from the courses. Respite was also considered as an intervention providing support for family carers, but this can also have issues for both the person with dementia and the family carer. Another intervention was workplace support and the importance of recognising carers in the workplace, especially younger ones. Peer support was also acknowledged as an intervention, and the valuable role that it can play in supporting family carers. She concluded by identifying a number of aspects where research is required to add to the existing evidence base.
Closing remarks were delivered by Liz Davies-Ward who highlighted the local, national and international reach of ADS, the importance of our education, and our engagement with different arts and sports organisations.
Following the presentations, there was plenty of tea and cake to facilitate networking amongst attendees, and an optional Dementia Friends session for any interested parties.
Thanks to everyone who came along to our celebration.
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