Dementia Action Week – what’s coming up?

It’s nearly Dementia Action Week (15th-21st May) so we thought we’d share a few events that we’re aware of. Please note that we are not endorsing any of these, just helping to share the information.

We’ll be doing our bit here at the University of Worcester by running a dementia awareness and information session for staff on 17th May and also having a stand in the St John’s campus reception area to share our knowledge with staff and students throughout the day.

We’ll also have a stand at an event organised by Age UK Worcester and Malvern Hills which is taking place 16th May 10am-4pm at the Guildhall in Worcester. We don’t have a flyer to share, but for further details contact or 07974 414056.

In Leominster there are various activities taking place all week organised by Dementia Matters Here, including an art exhibition, conference and picnic. More details are shown in the image below, together with contact information if you want to find out more. We’ll be at the conference on 16th May with a stand, and are looking forward to hearing the presentations taking place.

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Meeting Centres family blanket

Sometimes we have slightly crazy ideas, and this week it’s time to tell you a bit more about our latest one!

When we see photos from Meeting Centres being shared on social media, we often see lots of arts and crafts and creativity taking place, and one recent comment from a member about what they would like to do was “we could make a blanket”. Suffice to say, these sorts of things get us thinking, and we’ve come up with a plan to create a Meeting Centres UK family blanket.

We’re inviting Meeting Centres from across the UK to work with their members and carers to create squares that represent their Meeting Centre and what it means to them, send them to us, and we’ll bring them all together to create a blanket.

As luck would have it, we’re hosting an event to share the findings from our ‘Get Real with Meeting Centres’ research in mid-July, which will be the perfect opportunity to display the blanket and celebrate how far Meeting Centres have come.

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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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Mapping Assets for People Living with Dementia in Malvern

Back in December 2019 the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) ran two workshops to map community assets in the Malvern area (Worcestershire). The workshops were hosted by Friends of the Elderly and were attended by 25 people.

What is asset mapping?

Rather than focusing on problems and deficiencies, asset mapping works on the assumption that communities have a range of valuable assets, relationships and networks. These could be:

  • Individuals, including families, residents and community members who have experience, time and money
  • Associations such as self-help groups and community organisations, which have networks, buildings and influence
  • Organisations that commission and provide public services and businesses, which have money, services and land

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‘BYOL’ Lutterworth and Northampton

The latest Meeting Centre related webinar in our monthly ‘Bring Your Own Lunch’ series was delivered by Jackie Parkes, Professor in Applied Mental Health at University of Northampton. It covered work she has been delivering in Lutterworth (Leicestershire) and Northampton, and how it relates to current work being done with people at home. A lot of the work Jackie presented aligns very well with Meeting Centres, although it uses a slightly different approach.

Lutterworth Share and Care Group

LSCG logo

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Bring Your Own Lunch – Powys Meeting Centres

In the latest in our series of monthly webinar sessions focusing on Meeting Centres, Deborah Gerrard, Chief Officer at Dementia Matters in Powys shared how Powys Meeting Centres are supporting people with dementia and their carers through virtual Meeting Centres.

Who are Dementia Matters in Powys? Setting the scene

Dementia Matters in Powys formed in September 2016 and run four Meeting Centres with funding from the National Lottery. The Meeting Centres are based in Brecon, Llandrindod Wells, Newtown and Ystradgynlais are run by six members of staff and 16 volunteers, with governance from a board of three Trustees.

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Bring Your Own Lunch – Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre

Although most people were working from home, it didn’t matter for our latest online seminar which this time focused on the experiences of the Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre. Mike Watts took on a dual role when presenting this session, being both a Trustee of the Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre Charitable Incorporate Organisation (CIO) and a member of the Association for Dementia Studies team.

To set the scene, Droitwich Spa is close to Worcester in the West Midlands. As its name suggests it is a spa town, and salt has formed an important part of its history since Roman times.

Droitwich Spa Meeting Centre normally runs three days a week at the rugby club, excluding the current situation.

Montage of photos showing members

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Dementia Friendly Village Halls

We’re all used to thinking about making different care settings dementia friendly, with assessment tools out there for care homes, wards, hospitals, health centres and housing amongst others. However, other less formal environments where people with dementia are likely to visit or take part in groups and activities can often be overlooked. We were therefore delighted to be asked by Worcester Community Foundation in partnership with Community First in Herefordshire and Worcestershire and the Malvern Dementia Action Alliance to develop a Guide and Checklist for Dementia Friendly Village Halls.

Logos for the participating groups

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Art for Art’s Sake? – Art and music in Kirrie Connections Meeting Centre

Kirrie Connections

Kirriemuir, birthplace of Peter Pan author J.M. Barrie, is home to Kirrie Connections Meeting Centre which is based in the centre of the town. Kirrie Connections is a dementia friendly community hub which is open five days a week and has been operating as a Meeting Centre on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays since May 2019.

For the ‘Bring Your Own Lunch’ seminar on 28th February Graham Galloway, manager at Kirrie Connections Meeting Centre, told us about some of the arts-based projects that have taken place there. (Many thanks to Graham for sharing the photographs with us, and any mistakes in the following are ours and not Graham’s!)

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