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?

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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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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Another week, another Meeting Centre visit

After our recent visit to the Meeting Centres in South Gloucestershire and Bristol, we were delighted to have the opportunity to visit the Malvern Link Meeting Centre. Based in the Link Room at St Matthias Church, Malvern, the Meeting Centre is open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Although Dr Shirley Evans and Jen Bray had both been to the Meeting Centre before, it was the first time they’d visited since Es Hoyle had taken over as manager. It was also their first opportunity to meet Es in person, so it was lovely to sit and have a proper catch up about how things were going before the Meeting Centre opened for the day.

It was a very relaxed morning with Es and her volunteers welcoming people and getting some group discussions going. Tea and coffee were plentiful, and members enjoyed some jam tarts made the previous day during a Valentine’s Day baking session. Es had planned a hearty soup for lunch, but the celeriac and onion needed to be prepared. A member and volunteer made short work of these, peeling and chopping away, and quickly reducing them to manageable chunks ready for cooking. The smell of the soup bubbling away filled the air as different games and activities took place, and when it was ready everyone sat together and tucked in, with the soup being accompanied by some lovely bread that had been donated earlier in the day. Even those who had brought their own sandwiches looked like they’d been tempted to have some soup as well.

Shirley and Jen had to leave at lunchtime, which was a shame as we think they were looking forward to seeing ‘Mr Charisma’ who was coming in to provide some singing entertainment that afternoon. According to a board that Es had set up to advertise future activities, seated curling and a putting green would be available the following week – along with some very tasty food options – leaving Shirley and Jen to wonder if a repeat visit might be possible…!

Thanks to Es and everyone at the Malvern Link Meeting Centre for hosting and making us feel very welcome.

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

Follow @MeetingCentres on twitter to keep up to date with all things Meeting Centre related.

A (Meeting Centres) day tripper

Last week Dr Shirley Evans and Jennifer Bray set out on a cold and frosty morning and headed to Bristol for a mini Meeting Centre tour. Here’s how they got on…

After meeting up with Louise Spencer, Dementia Meeting Centres Project Manager and Dementia Health Integration Team Co-ordinator with Alive, who coordinates Meeting Centres in the area, we had the pleasure of spending the morning at the South Gloucestershire Meeting Centre in Bradley Stoke. We got to meet the Meeting Centre manager Winsome Barratt-Muir for the first time which was lovely, and after a proper catch up with Louise were able to meet the members and carers who attend. As well as joining in some of their activities, we got the opportunity to tell them a bit about the wider research around Meeting Centres and how they came to the UK, hopefully helping them to see that they are part of the ever-expanding Meeting Centre family.

A lovely bit of music and gentle exercise got us up and moving, although the feathers did end up being used as tickling sticks and for a mock duel at one point! It was great to see the friendships and social connections that have formed within the group, and we felt very welcome. Sadly we had to leave just as a light lunch was being organised for everyone to share, but based on stories about how much the group enjoys a relaxing, leisurely lunch we might never have got away!!

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Meeting Centres UK – latest news

It’s been a while since we’ve given an update on what’s going on with Meeting Centres, so here goes!

As mentioned in a previous blog, two projects focusing on Meeting Centres are coming to an end soon, but that doesn’t mean our work will be ending – far from it! After the end of the ‘Embed’ phase of our Meeting Centres work 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. Also, once we’ve got our findings and outputs from the Get Real with Meeting Centres project we’ll be looking to disseminate them to different audiences.

We’re very pleased to announce that we now have two new videos about Meeting Centres, created as part of the work we’re doing with the Worcestershire Meeting Centres. They’re aimed at two different audiences to give a flavour of what goes on at Meeting Centres and how they can benefit those who attend.

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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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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!

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Standing on the shoulders of giants

In the final Meeting Centres webinar of 2022 we got a bit nostalgic by taking a look back at how far the work around Meeting Centres has come in the UK, as well as looking at current work and plans for the future.

Dr Shirley Evans, Interim Director of the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) and guru of all things Meeting Centre-related, began the webinar by providing a bit of history about Meeting Centres and how they came to be in the UK. Shirley recognised the roles of Professor Rose-Marie Dröes and Emeritus Professor Dawn Brooker MBE, showing the two following short videos to provide context and extra information about Meeting Centres.

It was interesting to see how much progress has been made since the videos were originally filmed, not just in the UK but also in the Netherlands, and also what has remained constant such as the underpinning ethos of supporting people to adjust to the changes brought about by a dementia diagnosis and the Essential Features of a Meeting Centre.

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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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