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

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

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!

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.

Designing for Everyone focuses on the aspects of the built environment that are known to be important for people who are neurodiverse, including those who have a neurodegenerative condition such as dementia. What has been particularly interesting is the finding that, from the limited research available, there appears to be significant commonality in the design features that are important to all those living with dementia, autism and neurodiversity. This work has confirmed the importance of understanding that an individual’s responses to sensory stimuli are personal as everybody experiences neurodegeneration and neurodiversity differently.

With the expected increase in dementia amongst people living with learning disabilities and autism this work has implications across all health and social care settings.

Image showing the front covers of the full environmental assessment tool the summary environmental assessment tool and an easy read version of the primary care building assessment tool

The suite of tools, including easy read versions provided by Dimensions, are available free to download from the Dimensions website.

A poster about this work was recently displayed at the UK Dementia Congress, and a copy can be found below.

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

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.
Montage of photos showing our stand and some of the leaflets and resources on it
  • A symposium on Meeting Centres which brought together people from established Meeting Centres in Kirriemuir and Powys, a new Meeting Centre in Sandwell and emerging Meeting Centres in Hampshire, as well as highlighting the importance of our online Meeting Centre training.
Montage of photos showing the presenters in action during the symposium
  • A presentation from Dr Becky Oatley on the DemECH project, looking at “What is the ‘extra’ in extra care housing?”
photo of Becky presenting in front of a room of people
  • A whole range of posters about various projects and resources.
Montage showing photos of our six posters
  • A book launch featuring the ‘Reconsidering Dementia’ series, with the book ‘Considering Leisure in the Context of Dementia’ being edited by members of the team and including chapters that they have authored.
  • An early bird movement session co-facilitated by Nicola Jacobson-Wright, using dance as a way to reconnect post-pandemic. It got everyone off to a great start and sounded like a lot of fun.
  • A symposium on our education offerings, covering not just the Postgraduate Certificate but also our Meeting Centre training, Championing Physical Activity course, and bespoke courses for individual care providers. The session was delivered by our teaching team of Dr Chris Russell, Mary Bruce, Teresa Atkinson and Nicola Jacobson-Wright, and it was great to include two short video clips to highlight some of our course content created by people with lived experience of dementia, and feedback from some our students. As part of the symposium we were privileged to present the 2022 Hennell Award to student Stuart Wright, recognising their work after studying on our module ‘Expert practice in delivering person-centred dementia care’.
Montage of photos showing the teaching team presenting, Stu receiving his award, and some of the ADS team past and present

Attending other sessions also gave us the opportunity to learn about all sorts of different work going on across the country, trigger new ideas, make new connections and expand our networks. Thanks go to the organisers and also to our own admin team for making sure that we all got their ok (despite the disruption caused by the on/off rail strikes) and we had all the resources for our stand.

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

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
Continue reading “Is your garden dementia friendly?”

Meeting Centre resources

As part of our earlier research around Meeting Centres we developed a guidebook to help people understand the process for planning and opening a new Meeting Centres. We also produced a booklet describing the ‘Essential Features’ of what makes a Meeting Centre. In our current work, we have spent time reviewing and updating these resources, as well as expanding the set to include a booklet for carers and various information sheets.

What did we do?

Our existing resources were originally developed back in 2017, so we were aware that they were likely to be out of date due to progress around Meeting Centres and our work around data collection activities. As Meeting Centres are gaining real traction and spreading across the UK, we felt it was important to take the time to take stock, review and update our resources. With this in mind, we pulled together various feedback on the resources. This included comments from people who had attended our training courses, including people affected by dementia, and the practical experiences of people who have actually been setting up Meeting Centres.

Continue reading “Meeting Centre resources”

Did you see…?

We try to have a new blog post every week, but realise that it can be easy for some posts to be missed when life is busy or we’re caught up with work. Every now and again we like to take stock and do a quick recap of a few posts to give them a second chance to be seen. Here are the ones we’ve chosen this time:

  • How to use the environmental assessment tools – If you’ve seen us talking about the different environmental assessment tools we’ve got, but aren’t quite sure how to use them in practice, this is a good blog to look at. Don’t forget though, that since this blog post was written we’ve now got the garden assessment tool as well.
  • A roundup of the CHARM research projects – As part of the CHARM project multiple different research projects were carried out in care homes, and this handy blog post brings them all together in one post so you can see what went on. There’s also a link to the CHARM framework manual which you may find useful to have a copy of.
  • Finding out what people value about Meeting Centres – We’ve currently got a survey open for family members and carers of people with dementia who attend Meeting Centres to help us find out what is important to them. Information about the survey and a link to complete it can be found in this blog post.
  • Introducing CAMBUS – An initiative that started recently was the ‘Coffee and Memory Bus’ which is acting as a form of outreach for people with memory concerns in Herefordshire and Worcestershire. This blog post tells you more about what they offer and has a link to the website where you can find out where they’re going to be on what days.
  • 12 resources you should know about – In the run-up to Christmas (that feels like ages ago!) we told you about a different resource every day on social media then brought them together in one blog post. A handy one to look at if you need a quick reminder of the resources we’ve been involved with. You might even find ones that you didn’t realise existed but are really useful for what you’re doing.

So if you missed any of these the first time round please do take a look, or maybe you just want to remind yourself what they were about.

Don’t forget, you can look through all of our old blog posts by scrolling down, or by clicking on one of the ‘categories’ to the right of the page to see all posts about different topics.

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

Care Fit for VIPS – upgraded

As some of you are hopefully aware, we’ve been involved in the Care Fit for VIPS online toolkit for quite a few years, expanding the original care home offer to develop versions for use in day centres, hospitals, domiciliary care and community settings (see previous blog).

We’re very pleased to say that in recent months we’ve been working with Improvement Cymru (which is part of Public Health Wales) and Crystal (the online platform developers) to upgrade the existing website and create a bespoke version for use in Welsh hospitals as part of the implementation of their Dementia Friendly Hospital Charter for Wales.

The toolkit remains free to access for everyone, but if you are working in a Welsh hospital you will be given your own log-in details as part of the rollout of the bespoke version. If this applies to you, you can find out more about the Welsh hospital version and when you will be able to access the toolkit by contacting PHW.ImprovementCymruDementia@wales.nhs.uk

Continue reading “Care Fit for VIPS – upgraded”

The CHARM Framework manual has taken off!

Back in November we made the CHARM (Care home action researcher-in-residence model) Framework manual available to download and covered it in a blog at the beginning of January. While we always believed in it, it’s great to see that it’s really taken off with around 700 downloads in such a short space of time!

Front cover of the CHARM Framework manual
The CHARM Framework manual

Getting feedback on its impact

As it’s gained some traction, we’d really love to hear what you think of it and how you’re using it in practice. If you’ve already downloaded a copy, or are about to now that you know of it, we’d appreciate you taking the time to complete a very short feedback survey to help us assess its impact. If you’re interested in being part of this, please click on this link to access the survey.

Why is this important for us?

When we conduct research, we always want to know whether it’s actually having an impact in practice. It’s all well and good us producing the manual and it being downloaded, but if it sits on someone’s computer or shelf without actually being used, it’s not really doing any good! That’s why we need to hear from you. What are you actually doing with the manual in practice? How is it making a difference to you, your residents/patients/clients, and their families? What changes have you made as a result of downloading a copy of the CHARM Framework manual? Unless we hear back from you, we won’t know, so please do get involved with the survey to let us know what you’ve been doing.

We’d also like to get in touch with some of you in the future to find out a bit more detail about how the manual is being used and what difference it’s making, so you’ll notice at the end of the survey that we ask for some contact details if you’d happy to be part of this bit. While we don’t expect everyone to be up for this, it would be great if at least some of you would be willing to get involved.

The CHARM logo

If you’re not sure what CHARM is, let alone the CHARM Framework manual, please take a look at one of our previous blogs which should hopefully help! There is also more information about CHARM in a separate section on this blog site. Don’t forget, although the manual was developed based on a research project focusing on care homes, you don’t have to work in a care home to use it. We hope it’s useful in a variety of different settings, so take a look.

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