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

Course options – what can you study?

Last week our blog told you that if you’ve studied with us on any of our courses you were eligible to be nominated for the Hennell Award, so this week we thought we’d tell you a bit more about the courses themselves! Using the list from last week:

Postgraduate Certificate in Person-Centred Dementia Studies

Hopefully it won’t be a surprise to any of you that we offer a fully online Postgraduate Certificate in Person-Centred Dementia Studies, as we’ve mentioned it just a few times in previous blogs! We’ve got a range of modules available covering different aspects of dementia, and different ways to study.

  • You can do the whole Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits)
  • You can do the Postgraduate Award, which is a double module (30 credits)
  • You can study an individual module that particularly takes your interest (15 credits). If you enjoy it, you can always go on to do other modules or complete the Certificate, so it’s a non-committal way to see how you get on.

Our new cohort of students has just started, but the next modules will begin in September. If it’s the sort of thing you’ve been considering, or maybe you’ve got a few questions to work out if it’s right for you, please have a look at our website and get in touch. You’re not committing to anything, so it won’t hurt to ask, and there’s no such thing as a silly question!

Courses for professional groups and organisations

It’s actually quite difficult to tell you much about these courses as there isn’t a ‘standard’ course and any education would be tailored to the requirements and particular areas of interest of the target audience. Our courses are delivered using a combination of online and face-to-face options. It’s worth noting though that we are pretty much fully-booked for 2023, so while we welcome enquiries we would be unlikely to look at course delivery for a good few months. It’s always good to plan ahead though!

Meeting Centres online training

Anyone looking to initiate and run a Meeting Centre – or anyone who works or volunteers at one – should take a look at this 5-week online course. It will support you to consider the different elements that make up a Meeting Centre and explore the practicalities of implementing it. This will include looking at:

  • The Meeting Centre ethos
  • The Essential Features of a Meeting Centre
  • The Adjusting to Change model and how this model can be used in practice to support both members with dementia and family carers
  • The physical, social and psychological effect of movement on individuals, with the opportunity for staff/volunteers to start to consider how this can be incorporated into the Meeting Centres programme.

We’ve got dates set up throughout 2023, with the next course starting at the beginning of April. You can find out more about the course and the dates on our website.

Championing Physical Activity for People Affected by Dementia

This fully online course will develop your knowledge and confidence in facilitating physical activity for people affected by dementia. You will have the opportunity to learn from experts in the dementia and physical activity fields, as well as hear directly from the those with lived experience of dementia. It’s suitable for anyone working with people living with dementia or family carers, whose role involves the provision of physical activity. You might work or volunteer in care, health, housing, sport, leisure, or community-based services.

The course will enable you to:

  • Deliver physical activities and exercise which best suit individual wishes, as well as those of everyone in the group.
  • Understand the benefits for people affected by dementia taking part in physical activity and exercise.
  • Encourage and support people to participate, and know how and why to involve family carers in physical activities.

The next iteration of the course will be starting in April, with live sessions taking place on Tuesday mornings. Please see the flyer below for more information, and use the contact details within it to ask any questions.

Hopefully that gives you a flavour of our education and training, and maybe even encourages you to think about studying with us.

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!

Championing Physical Activity for People Affected by Dementia

This week we hand over to Dr Chris Russell who reflects on our online course ‘Championing Physical Activity for People Affected by Dementia’. Over to you Chris…

People affected by dementia (individuals living with dementia and also members of their family and close friends) want to continue doing things they have always enjoyed. Why would this not be the case? I know, because of research that we have completed here at the Association for Dementia Studies. This has explored activities that people can participate in perhaps for interest, for a sense of fun, or purpose, encapsulated by the term ‘leisure’. Such things contribute to making us who we are; they are part of everyday life.

Leisure includes activities as diverse as painting and listening to heavy metal music, with everything in between (and extending out on both sides!). It forms part of the jigsaw of everyday life. What one person enjoys might not be the preference of the next, but there should be something there for everyone. Taking part in physical activity is an aspect of this jigsaw, and physical activity is brimming with diversity too as it can include going for a walk, dancing, playing table tennis, going to the gym etc. It might not be every person’s first preference (although for many it is in one shape or form), but when one considers just how varied these activities can be, it is a feature of most of our lives.

Our research also highlighted that there are many people and services wishing to offer opportunity for people affected by dementia to take part in physical activity, but who often lack the skills and confidence to do so. There are already fantastic examples of good practice happening in leisure centres, sports clubs, community settings, care homes and hospitals, but there are plenty of others keen to contribute, who currently hesitate.

This was the background to the design and delivery of ‘Championing Physical Activity for People Affected by Dementia’, an online course extending over eight weeks, whose aim is to meet that need – to offer learners the knowledge and confidence to provide physical activity for people affected by dementia. The programme, generously supported through its development phases by both the Leisure Studies Association and Active Herefordshire and Worcestershire, has reached an exciting stage. Following a successful pilot earlier this year the second ever run of the course has just concluded, with arrangements in place to offer it for the first time to learners recruited by an active partnership, i.e. a charitable organisation responsible for supporting grassroots physical activity across a whole city or county in England.  

At such a moment it is timely to reflect on some of the learning from the most recent run of the course:

  • There is interest in offering physical activity to people affected by dementia as a leisure choice. Over the last few weeks, for example, we have worked with learners from close by in Worcestershire and Herefordshire, but it has also been a great pleasure to welcome colleagues from London, Ireland, Scotland, the USA, the Czech Republic and Germany, providing support or care in settings including hospital wards and care homes, and the wider community. We were also delighted to welcome a colleague facilitating walks in the highlands of Scotland, and another offering Irish Dancing adapted for people affected by dementia.
  • The group of learners, coming from such diverse work or voluntary settings, provided a positive foundation for the programme which enabled the tutors to weave in theory and practice from dementia, physical activity and leisure contexts. As the course progressed these worked in combination to provide each learner with unique and valuable insights to incorporate in their own practice.   
  • The range and nature of the physical activity offered by the learners, in the myriad of settings where they operate, highlights that there remains uncertainty about just what ‘facilitation of physical activity’ means, and what might be ‘best practice’.        
  • A community of learning was fostered by participation, which extended beyond the course itself. For example, contact details were shared, and learners put each other in touch with further opportunities for professional development. This included attendance by several of them on Age Scotland’s online Body Boosting Bingo, which proved very popular!        

So, we have gathered plenty of learning ourselves on what works well and what could be fine-tuned as we move into the next phase of ‘Championing Physical Activity for People Affected by Dementia’. It is a great pleasure to be able to work with people committed to supporting people affected by dementia live lives of quality, in particular with regards to activities and interests that individuals wish to uphold and progress. The new year signals exciting times ahead.

If you would like to find out more about the course, please see our flyer and get in touch with us using the details provided on it. You may also be interested in a poster about the pilot course that we developed for the recent UK Dementia Congress.

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

The Hennell Award 2022

Everyone at the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) is driven by the priority to do all we can to enable people with dementia and their close family and friends to enjoy lives of quality. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Hennell Award.   

The Hennell Award for Innovation and Excellence in Dementia Care (to give it its full title!) was launched in memory of the late Brian Hennell at the ADS 5th birthday celebration event on 14 May 2014. Brian’s wife June has acted as an ambassador for this award which recognises people who have made a significant contribution to promoting person-centred care.

Anyone who has studied on one of our many courses can enter the award. This year we were able to shortlist three amazing and innovative applications – all very different, but each one focused on enhancing the lives of individuals whom the entrants supported. You can read about the entries on our webpages.

Stu Wright, who won this year’s Hennell Award, impressed the judging panel with his “real-life plans and actions for improvement within care homes”, and his focus upon human rights and the needs and aspirations of people living with advanced dementia. We’re very pleased that Stu will be joining us at the upcoming UK Dementia Congress to talk about his work as part of a symposium about our education, so if you’re at Congress please do come along to hear more and congratulate Stu on his achievement.

It is such a great pleasure to be involved with the Hennell Award, knowing that the education we provide can help make a considerable difference to people’s lives. It is fantastic to be able to recognise our students for the contribution they make.   

Details will be posted in December about arrangements for the Hennell Award 2022/23. We are looking forward to receiving more great applications and recognising the impressive things going on to promote person-centred care and support across the world!    

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”

New Meeting Centre training coming up

Over the past few years we’ve been delivering training to help staff and volunteers who are looking to set up a new Meeting Centre, with the training being online since the start of the pandemic. Our latest course is about to start in a couple of weeks, but we’re pleased to say that we can now offer three further courses next year.

On each course you’ll learn about Meeting Centres, find out more about the ‘Adjusting to Change’ model which is the underpinning ethos behind Meeting Centres, learn about psycho-social support and physical activity, and how to support family members and friends. The courses combine video clips, activities, discussion boards, live sessions, reading and useful resources, most of which can be done at a time to suit you.

You won’t be able to book onto the courses just yet, but we thought we’d let you know the dates so you can get them in your diary if you’re interested or just starting to think about Meeting Centres.

Continue reading “New Meeting Centre training coming up”

Getting ready for the academic year

With August rapidly disappearing, we’re putting the finishing touches to our Postgraduate Certificate in Person-Centred Dementia Studies modules which will be running from September. They’ve all run before, so it’s mainly a case of making a few tweaks based on student feedback and adding in any new information to keep them current. It’s not too late to enrol if you’re interested in studying with us (or get ahead of the game and get sorted early for a January start!), and don’t forget you can sign up for a single module before making a decision about whether to do the full Postgraduate Certificate. So what can you study?

Starting in September

  • MDEM4001 Person-Centred Leadership: The VIPS Approach – Nicola Jacobson-Wright will be leading this module, and this is the mandatory module if you’re doing the full PGCert. On this module Nicola will be focusing on the development of the students’ leadership skills to critically analyse service provision for people living with dementia from the perspective of the person living with dementia, and how they can lead services to work better from this perspective.
  • MDEM4004 Supporting People Living with Advanced Dementia – On this module, Mary Bruce will be encouraging students to consider the important aspects of care planning and approaches to support relevant to the care of people living with advanced dementia. Students will consider the utility of identifying and defining advanced dementia and consider the ways in which this impacts upon the person, their family, health and social care professionals and other agencies delivering support.
  • MDEM4005 Enabling Environments for People Living with Dementia – Led by Teresa Atkinson, this module will help students understand how opportunities and constraints in any given environment can impact on people with dementia is important to supporting well-being and the citizenship of people living with dementia regardless of where they reside. This module examines the creation of dementia friendly communities, enabling environments in the home and health care settings, as well as the contribution of the person-environment fit to well-being, autonomy and preservation of self and identity.
Continue reading “Getting ready for the academic year”