Evaluating two online platforms – the final push!

In previous blogs we’ve told you about two digital platforms, Know Your Place Worcester and Life Stories Herefordshire and Worcestershire, that look at different aspects of heritage work. As a very quick recap:

  • Know Your Place Worcester uses old maps and photos to explore what Worcester looked like in the past.
  • Life Stories Herefordshire and Worcestershire enables you to create your own life story book capturing stories and photos from your past and present, and share it with others if you choose.

Since our earlier blogs there have been some developments to let you know about. The overall Worcester Life Stories project that drove the creation of the platforms has produced a book ‘Worcester Life Stories – in the words of local people’. Additionally, the Life Stories Herefordshire and Worcestershire platform has expanded their ‘life packs’ to cover topics that are specific to Hereford with more still to be added.

As we’ve said before, the Association for Dementia Studies’ involvement with the two platforms is to evaluate their impact. We want to know how people are using the platforms, what they have done as a result of using the platforms, and what impact they have had in practice. Have they helped to trigger conversations, reminiscence sessions, visits to different places? To find out we are conducting two online surveys – one for each resource – but there’s not much time left to get involved. The surveys are anonymous, and it would be great if you can use the links below to get involved and provide some feedback. Whether you’ve used a platform once or you use it every week, any feedback you can provide is really valuable to us, so thank you in advance.

The logos for Know Your Place Worcester (a picture of the UK with a magnifying glass over Worcester showing a bit of a map) and Life Stories Herefordshire & Worcestershire (a speech bubble saying 'Herefordshire & Worcestershire' above the words 'Life Stories')

Connect with ADS on twitter @DementiaStudies and on Facebook @adsuow

Herefordshire Dementia Voices

We’ve been remiss in not telling you about one of our current projects, so we thought we’d use this week’s blog to put that right!

First off, the Herefordshire Dementia Voices project isn’t actually a project we’re delivering. That’s being done by Dementia Matters Here(fordshire), and our role at the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) is to be a separate group sitting alongside the project to evaluate its effectiveness. Before saying what we’re doing, it probably makes sense to tell you a bit about the project itself.

Herefordshire Dementia Voices – a bit of background

People with dementia and their families have been some of the most adversely affected by the pandemic in terms of health and well-being and social isolation. With funding from the National Lottery Community Fund, Dementia Matters Here are delivering the Herefordshire Dementia Voices project to put people with dementia in the lead and help identify what they need and want in terms of support, both in the light of the pandemic and moving forward.

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Making a change

One of the current projects that we’re involved with at the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) is called ‘Herefordshire Dementia Voices’. The project is being led by Dementia Matters Here and aims to help identify what people affected by dementia need and want in terms of support in the county, both in the light of the pandemic and moving forward. Multiple activities are – and will be – taking place to find and hear the voices of people affected by dementia, including interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, Dementia Friends Sessions, events, blogs, newsletters and support to establish dementia friendly communities and support groups.

At ADS, our role is to evaluate the overall effectiveness of the project to explore to what extent the voices of people affected by dementia have been identified and heard. As part of that evaluation, we’re using a ‘Theory of Change’ approach. This is a new approach for us, so it’s been a bit of a learning process (like getting to grips with soft systems for the Get Real project!), but this week we had our first workshop with members of the Herefordshire Dementia Voices Steering Group to start looking at how Theory of Change can be applied to their project. We’re not going to try and explain it in any detail here, but ultimately we wanted to explore not just what is happening in the project and changing as a result, but also how and why things are happening and changing. It encourages us to consider how change happens in both the short-term and the long-term, and the myriad of factors that affect change for projects such as this (complex social interventions). It’s an iterative and recursive process that involves mapping the various elements of the project in a visual format, getting input from relevant stakeholders to make sure that we’re capturing everything, and refining our view of the project through their real-life experiences. This was just the first of three planned workshops to help form our initial project map, with further workshops taking place later in the project as it progresses.

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Introducing CAMBUS

This week we’d like to let you know about an exciting new initiative that has started in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. The Coffee and Memory Bus (CAMBUS) scheme currently comprises two minibuses/vans, which will travel around Herefordshire and Worcestershire reaching out to people in their community and providing a safe and friendly space for people to enjoy a tea or coffee, have a chat, find out useful information, and even start creating their own life story on the Herefordshire & Worcestershire Life Stories platform.

It can sometimes be difficult for people to access support services or find out about what is available to them, so this initiative aims to take that support and information to people where they are. Maybe they have concerns about their memory or a relative’s memory and aren’t sure what the next step is. Maybe they just want to be a bit more social by having a drink and a chat with others. CAMBUS provides those opportunities.

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5 blogs you may have missed

Our blog site aims to release a new post every week, but we realise that it’s not always easy to keep up with them. So this week we’re going to take stock and do a quick recap of five blogs that you may have missed from the past year.

1. Exploring issues relating to housing and care provision for LGBTQ older people – As it’s currently Pride Month, this seemed appropriate. It provides an overview of a webinar organised by the Housing and Dementia Research Consortium where three presenters shared their views and experiences of some of the issues facing LGBTQ people with dementia and LGBTQ older people more widely. It was a well-attended and well-received webinar, so definitely worth another look.

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Easy ways to make your business more dementia friendly

The Coronavirus pandemic has shown that many businesses and organisations can successfully adapt to different circumstances and put (sometimes expensive) measures in place to help people use their services safely. As we hopefully return to a more normal situation, we’d like to encourage those businesses and organisations to think how they can improve their physical and social environments to be more dementia friendly, rather than just removing Covid-related signs and returning to what they had before.

We’re not proposing everyone undergoes a complete refurbishment (unless you really want to!) or spends a lot of money, but just gives a bit more consideration to how they can support people affected by dementia, either as customers or members of staff. Whether you’re a café, restaurant, shop, pub, bank, leisure centre, office, train station or whatever, here are a few inexpensive ideas for you to take on board. You might also find that they benefit many more people, not just those affected by dementia!

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You’ve come to the right place

Our April Meeting Centres webinar focused on the physical environment and how Meeting Centres can be made more dementia friendly. It was a real team effort, consisting of four short presentations. The session started with Professor Dawn Brooker MBE acting as chair and setting the scene about why the venue for a Meeting Centre is important and what you should look for when exploring potential options.

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Putting Worcester on the map (literally) – the launch of two new digital platforms

On 23rd April, we attended the (online) launch of two new digital platforms that have been developed over the past few months to support the sharing of memories and heritage material. The work has been undertaken as part of a project led by Worcester City Council and Herefordshire and Worcestershire Health and Care NHS Trust, and has invited public input and feedback throughout the development process. So what are the two platforms and how can you access them?

Know Your Place Worcester

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Care Fit for VIPS – ‘how to’ guide

As someone who has been involved in the development, evolution and maintenance of the Care Fit for VIPS online toolkit, it’s easy to assume that everyone knows what it is and how to use it. As that’s not necessarily the case, here’s a quick ‘how to’ guide to hopefully help you out.

First off, Care Fit for VIPS is a free online resource that:

  • Allows you to self-assess a service or organisation against the VIPS framework (see a previous blog for more information about VIPS)
  • Enables you to identify areas that you may wish to improve
  • Signposts you to helpful resources relating to each area of the framework
  • Provides a Plan-Do-Study-Act template to put your plans into action
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SCI-Dem resources – what are they and why should I take a look?

Our SCI-Dem project ended recently, but has three resources which are now available for everyone to use. Although it’s got its own blog site we thought we’d give a quick overview of the resources here to help spread the word as we think they’re worth knowing about.

Can you remind me what SCI-Dem is about?

SCI-Dem stands for ‘Sustainable Community Interventions for people affected by Dementia’. The project carried out a realist review, which in very basic terms means it gathered together a wide range of information about the problems faced by groups that meet regularly to support people affected by dementia. This information was then analysed to work out how it all linked together and identify successful strategies and good practices that help groups to be sustainable in the longer-term.

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