A period of change

As usual, there’s a lot going on within the Association for Dementia Studies at the moment, so to help you (and us!) keep track here’s a brief update.

Coming to an end

We’ve got a few projects due to finish in the next couple of months, such as:

  • The Herefordshire Dementia Voices (HDV) evaluation, which is looking at the extent to which the HDV project met its intended outcomes of finding and hearing the voices of people affected by dementia. If you’d like to share your views on this project, you don’t have long – our online survey closes very soon so don’t miss out!
  • Worcester Life Stories, which comprises two online platforms (Know Your Place and Life Stories Herefordshire and Worcestershire) has been the subject of a few previous blogs, and again you don’t have much time to share your views and feedback with us using the following surveys.
  • The Get Real with Meeting Centres project is in its final phase of pulling all of our findings together and working out how to present and share them with different audiences. We’re consulting with various stakeholders to make sure we get it right, and have some exciting plans for creating both booklets and videos to explore different ways of making our findings accessible.
  • The ‘Embed’ phase of our Meeting Centres work is due to end soon, but have no fear! We’ll be continuing to work on Meeting Centres, primarily focusing on keeping our existing Meeting Centre network going and continuing to support new Meeting Centres to get up and running.
  • The DemECH project which has been looking at Supporting People Living with Dementia In Extra Care Housing is in the reporting phase, and we hope to be able to share the outputs with you in the near future.

Beyond research, our September cohort of students on our Postgraduate Certificate in Person-Centred Dementia Studies has recently submitted their final assignments, so best of luck to everyone!

Getting going

We do have quite a few things just starting up (and others in the pipeline that we can’t quite tell you about yet!), such as:

  • A new project is Crossing the Line, which is looking at the challenges faced by family carers relating to providing personal care for people living with dementia. Keep an eye out for more information about this project in the future as it gets going properly.
  • Another project is an evaluation of a new staff role that’s been created within a care-enabled assisted living scheme for older people, with the aim of improving engagement and reducing loneliness among their community. It’s in the early stages, but looks like an exciting project so far!
  • We’re also very pleased to be undertaking some work to develop a suite of apps based on the existing Dementia Friendly Environmental Assessment Tools. Again, this hasn’t been going for very long, but it’s already looking great – watch this space for updates!

Our new cohort of Postgraduate Certificate students has just started, and several other courses (both online and in person) have also got going in January with others starting soon. Looking slightly further ahead, we’ve got new cohorts of our Meeting Centres online training and Championing Physical Activity for People Affected by Dementia (online) starting in April, so have a look at the relevant information and get in touch if you are interested in either of those.

Nothing ever stands still at the Association for Dementia Studies, but we’ll try to keep you updated with our news in the future.

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

Hennell Award Launch 2023

We’ve had blog posts about The Hennell Award before, most recently announcing the 2021-2022 winner Stu Wright, and we’re pleased to announce that nominations for the 2022-2023 Award are now being accepted.

The Hennell Award celebrates innovation and excellence in dementia care, and is opened to anyone who has taken part in one of our education or training courses. Have a look at the list below and see if they apply to you.

  • Our Postgraduate Certificate modules – have you taken your learning back into practice and made a difference to the people you work with? Maybe you’ve studied on our ‘Enabling Environments’ module, made your care environment more dementia friendly and seen the impact of those changes. Maybe the ‘Advanced Dementia’ module has inspired you to think differently about pain assessment.
  • We deliver courses for professional groups and organisations, such as care providers – think about what’s changed as a result of those courses. Maybe you’ve carried out a VIPS assessment using the Care Fit for VIPS toolkit and have made changes based on your findings. Maybe you’ve been able to share your learning with colleagues.
  • If you’ve been on our Meeting Centres online training you’re also eligible – have you set up a Meeting Centre following the course? Maybe you’ve been able to measure the impact that your Meeting Centre is having on the members and carers who attend. Maybe you’ve used what you learnt on the course to overcome a particular challenge.
  • Last, but by no means least, you can also be part of the Hennell Award if you’ve been on our Championing Physical Activity for People Affected by Dementia course (please check with us for latest dates and fees) – have you noticed a difference in your practice? Maybe you’ve introduced physical activity into your existing work with people with dementia. Maybe you’ve adapted your exercise class to make it more dementia friendly and inclusive.

Basically, there are multiple ways that you could be our next Hennell Award winner, and we want to hear from you. You can nominate yourself (don’t be shy, why not celebrate and be proud of what you’re achieving?!), or you can nominate someone else if you know a friend or colleague who is doing great work and deserves to be recognised. Find out more about previous winners and also get a copy of the nomination form from our website.

You’ve got until 3rd July to get your nominations in so there’s plenty of time to get thinking, but don’t leave it until the last minute!

Having an impact

Starting a new year can often make people a bit reflective, and here at the Association for Dementia Studies we’re no different. We’ve been involved in numerous research projects over the years, with a lot of that research feeding into and underpinning our education. While we’re proud of what we’ve done, it tends to be a bit odd when a project finishes as we don’t always get to see what happens next. Who reads our reports and takes any recommendations on board? Who uses our resources and makes a change as a result? Who takes their learning back to the workplace and makes a change to their practice or work setting? Who benefits from what we’re doing and are they local, national or even international?

Basically, how do we know that we’re having an impact and how significant is that?

In terms of our education, we do get some feedback from students if their course involves completing a short project or if they apply for the Hennell Award where they are required to show what they’ve done as a result of being on one of our courses. With our research it can be trickier, especially if the output is a resource that can be freely downloaded. How can we reach people if we don’t know who they are? We often don’t have the time and resources to do any follow-up activities either, as other research projects have generally taken over.

So what can we do?

We’re currently in the process of exploring different options, but a couple of things we’ve already put in place are:

  • Providing students on our Postgraduate Certificate modules with a template document encouraging them to keep a record of any changes they make to their practice as a result of their studies. While this can be useful for us if we want to ask students for any examples, it can also give the students themselves a bit of a boost to see what they’ve achieved.
  • Having feedback surveys available alongside some of our resources, such as the CHARM framework manual. When people go to download a copy of the manual they will also see a link to a survey asking them to say how they’ve used the manual in their work. It doesn’t always pan out as it relies on people remembering and being willing to complete the survey once they’ve had time to use the manual, but it’s better than nothing.

Hopefully we’ll have other options available soon, but if you ever see any requests from us asking for feedback please consider taking the time to get involved. We’d really appreciate it, even if it’s not particularly positive, as it will help us to improve and know that our work is having some form of impact. You can also just email us with any comments or examples of what you’ve been doing, you don’t need to wait for us to ask (please send anything to j.bray@worc.ac.uk and put ‘impact/feedback’ in the email subject line). Thank you!

Combining two different roles

This week we hear from Teresa Atkinson who is a Senior Research Fellow here at the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) but also a lecturer on our Postgraduate Certificate in Person-Centred Dementia Studies, specifically the modules around enabling environments and supporting family carers. Over to you Teresa…

Being a lecturer and a researcher is an interesting journey full of self-reflection and constant learning. In this week’s blog, I bring together a number of things that have happened recently which I’ve been reflecting on.

As a researcher of 20+ years (where did that go!) I have listened to the voices of people affected by their cognitive impairment in many walks of life. This was what excited me to become involved in training and now in education – sharing the stories and experiences of the many voices I had heard to help professionals in practice to understand the funny, sad and interesting lives of the people we support.

As an educator, I’m deeply proud of the work we do at ADS to share our knowledge; knowledge which comes from years of practice and years of research. But this is also a learning journey for me; learning from people affected by dementia; learning from our students (all professionals in practice) and learning from my colleagues.

Continue reading “Combining two different roles”

Research update

We regularly have to provide updates to the wider university to say what’s going on with our research within the Association for Dementia Studies, and it’s actually quite a nice exercise to do as it helps us realise just how much we’re doing on a daily basis. It’s a chance to pause and reflect, and as that feels quite appropriate at the moment we thought we’d share our latest research update with you. So, just what have we been up to between May and August?

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Now and next

Every few months we take stock of what’s been going on and have a look at what we’ve got coming up, and now feels like a good time to just that!

Conferences

We’re in that weird period of some conferences being online, some returning to in-person events, and some using a hybrid approach. In May we went to the Alzheimer’s Society Conference in London, and one of our PhD Students Nathan Stephens wrote up his thoughts for a Dementia Researcher blog. We also presented at an internal University of Worcester Research Seminar, looking at ‘The challenges of reaching the right people’. This is something we’ve considered in a previous blog post, but this time we focused on our experiences with two current projects: Worcester Life Stories and Get Real with Meeting Centres. Part of the presentation looked at the challenges faced in our Get Real Work Package looking at why people don’t attend Meeting Centres.

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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.

Continue reading “Introducing CAMBUS”

Four seasons in one month

A quick bonus blog for you, as we wanted to update you on Senior Research Fellow Teresa Atkinson’s 100km dog walking challenge in March. Over to Teresa:

Calendar showing March 31st, the end of Teresa's challenge
The March challenge has ended!

Whilst I was never in doubt that I would rise to the challenge of walking 100km in a month, it’s certainly had its ups and downs. Who would have thought we could go from 19 degrees to snow in the matter of a few days? So here is a photo of me on my last, triumphant day, looking a little euphoric and wrapped up.

Teresa wearing a bobble hat, and her dog Oska
Teresa and Oska
Continue reading “Four seasons in one month”

Dog Walking Challenge for Dementia UK

This week we hand over to Senior Research Fellow Teresa Atkinson to hear about the fundraising challenge she’s taking on in March.

Physical activity has never been high on my ‘to-do’ list, but the idea of a dog walking challenge really caught my interest. Dog walking is something close to my heart, as is the cause I am raising money for – Dementia UK. 

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Rising to the challenge

This week it’s over to Dr Becky Oatley to tell us about what she’s been up to:

It is a freezing cold night in the middle of Winter. Indeed, I scraped the ice from my car before I hit the road. I’m wondering what has possessed either me or my companion to agree to this idea. As I reach my destination, the bright lights of the new leisure centre rear up out of the gloom. I am here to meet Jane and we are about to try a dementia friendly swimming session.

I first met Jane through the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS). She has done work with us for several years. Jane is living with an atypical dementia and was a member of the original LINK Group – a group of people with lived experience that supported ADS in their work. Jane has continued to work with us and has contributed to research and teaching across many projects and modules. She is a much-valued member of our team! Most recently, she has been helping edit a book about leisure, and contributed some key content about the value of physical activity to be used on the new PALDem course.

Continue reading “Rising to the challenge”