May madness

It feels like I say this quite often, but as the Association for Dementia Studies is doing a lot at the moment, we thought it would be useful to take stock and draw breath in this week’s blog. Here’s an overview of what’s going on.

Education and training

Our PGCert students have recently submitted their final assignments so our lecturers are busy marking. Before we know it, we’ll be welcoming a new cohort of students on our September modules! If you would like to be one of them, please have a look at our website or watch our new short video. A reminder to current and former students – you are eligible for the Hennell Award so why not apply!?

The next cohort of the 5-week Meeting Centre online training starts later this month, and this time is being facilitated by Kirrie Connections. If this is too short notice, don’t worry, we’ll be running another cohort in July. Have a look at our website for full details and how to register for either course. We’re also working on developing Meeting Centre training for other audiences, so keep an eye open for further updates.

Conferences and events

In Dementia Action Week we’ve got information stands at the Leominster Dementia Conference and The Worcester Dementia Action Alliance Awareness Event (both on 16th May), as well as running a dementia awareness and information session for staff here at the University of Worcester on 17th May supported by having a stand in the St John’s campus reception area.

We’ll also be at the Alzheimer’s Society Annual Conference in London on 18th May, presenting at the Cornwall Dementia Conference down in Newquay on 19th May and presenting at the 23rd International Conference on Integrated Care in Belgium later in the month. Busy times!

We’re also planning our Get Real event to launch and share the findings. Although it’s not until 12th July, our plans are well underway, and if you would like to attend you can register here. As part of the event we’ll also be displaying our Meeting Centres family blanket so don’t forget to send in your squares!

If that wasn’t enough, we’ll be writing abstracts to submit to various conferences such as UK Dementia Congress later in the year to share findings from a whole host of our research projects.

Research and consultancy

We’ve got several research projects underway at various stages, so we’ll be working on these as well as writing articles for recently completed projects. Bid writing is also taking place with several bids taking shape quite nicely (fingers crossed!).

A work in progress is the development of an app version of the environmental assessment tools. The app is not quite at the point of being made available, but it’s not far away – watch this space.

We’re also working on a series of short videos relating to Meeting Centre data collection, both to help Meeting Centre staff understand what’s involved but also to help explain it to members and carers and encourage them to get involved. It’s another ‘coming soon’ situation, but hopefully the videos will be helpful to everyone.

Phew! Same again next month?

Focusing on the little things

Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up with trying to make big changes or getting things happening at scale, but that means the little things can get overlooked. In this blog we’re going to celebrate a few small tweaks and changes that have happened recently, which have probably gone unnoticed so far!

  • Updating our publications page – on our website we have a page where we share lists of our publications and knowledge exchange activities (if you didn’t know about that page, you do now!). We try to keep the lists updated, but when things are busy it doesn’t always happen as often as we’d like. We’re pleased to say that it’s all back on track now, and every time we update the lists it’s always a nice reminder of what we’ve been doing.
  • Expanding our publications page – as well as updating our publications, we’ve added in a new section on that page to focus on resources. A lot of our research projects result in new (and more often than not, free!) resources. While we share these in relevant places on our website, we thought it would be useful to bring them together in one place, so we did!
  • Sharing our new Meeting Centre videos – we’re very pleased with the two short videos created as part of the Worcestershire Meeting Centres Community Support Programme and have made sure that as well as sharing them on social media, they are also available on our website. In addition to providing links to them in our new resources section (see above), they are available on our Meeting Centres page.
  • Sharing the DemECH booklets – following the recent launch at the House of Lords, links to download the three booklets from our DemECH research have been included in the relevant section on our current research webpage, and before you ask, yes they are also in our new resources section!
  • Adding information about our new research project – ourCrossing the Line’ project has been added to our current research webpage, so you can find out more about what we’re doing and we’ll keep adding to it as the project progresses.
  • Making our Meeting Centre newsletters available – we realised that our Meeting Centre newsletters only get circulated to our Meeting Centre mailing list, when really they should be available more widely. To rectify this, we’ve added a new page on the Meeting Centre blog where we can link to all the newsletters, so if you want to find out what’s been going on feel free to take a look. I’m not sure why we didn’t do this sooner when we already share our ADS newsletters on our ADS blog!
  • Sharing Meeting Centre locations – although it’s a bit of a movable feast with new Meeting Centres opening all the time, we’ve added another new page on our Meeting Centre blog site to say where you can find Meeting Centres across the UK. If you run a Meeting Centre and you can’t see yourself on there (or we’ve got your details wrong), please email j.bray@worc.ac.uk and we’ll get it sorted.

So there you go, nothing earth shattering or amazing, but a few minor things that have been going on to hopefully make things a bit easier. These sorts of things tend to be happening behind the scenes all the time, and there are probably many other examples we could have shared. So let’s celebrate the small things every now and again, because they all add up!

DemECH launch at the House of Lords

We hand over to Teresa Atkinson for this week’s blog to find out about something rather exciting that happened last week…

Well, as they say, all good things come to an end…or do they?

Last week saw the launch of the findings from our recently completed project exploring the benefits and challenges of Extra Care Housing (ECH) for people living with dementia. What a great journey this has been, speaking to care staff, commissioners, managers and, most importantly, people living with dementia about their experiences of living in different models of ECH.

ECH is becoming an ever more attractive housing option as people age. However, there is still much that is misunderstood about what extra care housing can do to support people living with dementia. Our project found that people with dementia can live well in ECH but this is very much based on the individual being in the right place, at the right time and with the right level of support. Understanding the factors that impact on this is of paramount importance if we want to ensure people can live a good life in ECH.

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New Meeting Centre videos available

We mentioned these briefly in a recent blog, but thought that really they deserved a blog of their own. As part of our Worcestershire Meeting Centres Community Support Programme we were fortunate to be able to use a small amount of the funding provided by Worcestershire County Council to create two short videos to help promote Meeting Centres.

The two videos were aimed at different audiences, namely potential members and carers, and referrers. The purpose of the videos was to give people a better idea of what goes on at a Meeting Centre and some of the benefits that people experience through attending a Meeting Centre. It’s not practical for everyone to visit a Meeting Centre to see what they are like for themselves, so hopefully the videos can give a bit of a flavour and encourage more people to get involved.

To create the videos we worked with Sean Macreavy media who was able to visit several of the new Meeting Centres across Worcestershire that have benefitted from funding as part of the Worcestershire Meeting Centres Community Support Programme, and capture the views of members, carers, staff and volunteers. It was a tricky task to whittle the recordings down to two short videos, but at the same time it was great to hear how positive everyone was and almost be spoilt for choice in terms of wonderful content. However, we did manage to finalise the two videos, and we’d love you to see them.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Designing for Everyone

A suite of environmental assessment tools for health centres (also known as primary care centres/GP premises) has just been launched. These tools have been written by the Association for Dementia Studies for Assura plc who design, build and lease health centres across the UK.

Assura wanted to ensure that their health centres were supportive to people living with dementia, learning disability, autism and neurodiversity. It is thought that this is the first time work has been undertaken to look at the design features that are important to all these groups. The Patients Association and Dimensions, a charity that support people with learning disabilities and autism, provided reports on patients’ views of the health centre environment which for the first time confirmed how important the environment was to the patient experience and the delivery of high quality patient care.

We found through reviews of the literature and best practice that despite the vast majority of patient contacts in the NHS taking place in health centres – at least in normal ‘non-Covid’ circumstances – little work has been undertaken to look at the design of these premises for patients including people living with dementia and other neurodiverse conditions.

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UK Dementia Congress 2022

After a pause due to the pandemic the UK Dementia Congress was back to being held in person, and this year it took place at Aston University Conference Centre on 8th-9th November. Although it was a smaller affair that previously, it provided a great opportunity to get back to networking, and made it possible for many of the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) team – past and present – to meet up en masse. (I’m not sure what the collective noun for a group of ADS colleagues would be, but perhaps it’s best not to go there!)

We had a good presence at the conference including:

Montage of photos showing Shirley and Nathan presenting next to slides projected onto a screen.
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Is your garden dementia friendly?

The Covid-19 pandemic has drawn particular attention to the need for better use of outdoor spaces by everyone. Last Autumn the Association for Dementia Studies launched an environmental assessment tool for gardens which has proved a very popular addition to our suite of assessment tools. As part of this work we have now launched Making your garden dementia-friendly a free resource for people living at home with dementia, their carers and families. 

The front cover of the booklet, showing the title, a photo of a tree in a garden, and a green stripe down the right side
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