#Dementiachallengers are breaking down stereotypes around dementia and challenging a few assumptions and a bit of stigma along the way.
I have written several blogs about our project in West Kent, which was inspired and delivered by passionate local people, particularly Sandra Springett, Dianne Aslett, Alison Waters and their colleagues. Unsung heroes, doing good work day in day out, but who wanted to push the boundaries a bit.
We have been lucky to find that local Age UKs, local Alzheimer’s Society, Kent County Council, the NHS, Dementia 4 Schools, Catch 22, community and voluntary organisations and many others have been happy to work together without worrying about anything other than the people we are all serving. Refreshing.
Developing collaborative networks is rewarding and fun!
We were commissioned to deliver 16 Whose Shoes?® workshops … and we are enjoying spoiling the statistics of any ‘tick-boxers’ who might be lurking behind the scenes as we have now delivered 22 events … and counting. We got funding to do graphic recording of one event… but, through the talents and enthusiasm and generosity with their time of local people, we managed to graphically record ALL our sessions. Community capacity building. Taking ownership.
It is wonderful to get people like Zoe Harris actively involved – Zoe cared for her husband through many years of living with dementia and has developed the multi award winning Care Charts as a direct consequence to their own lived experience:
So where have the extra Whose Shoes?® ‘legacy events’ popped up from?
Well, we set out to trigger light-bulb moments and to light fires. Too many projects have a beginning, a middle and an end. But projects to raise awareness of dementia should only really have a beginning – and then keep having an impact, because the people involved are deeply affected by something that stays with them. And then they too want to do something to help – and so slowly the fires spread.
A big part of the story is to wait and see what people want and see if we can provide it.
So we were asked to hold a large event in East Kent to help family carers
So we have had unplanned events. Similar to the carers, the Women’s Institute attended our community sessions and then asked us to run events for their members. If the W.I get the bit between their teeth about an issue, it has to be a good thing!
And, as the superb Dementia4Schools project has proved, there is no better to change attitudes than by getting young people on board. So Sandra and her colleagues linked up with Catch 22 charity and ran sessions for young people. This led directly to young people volunteering to help people living with dementia in day centres and other very rewarding inter-generational outcomes.
And of course, the young people did their own graphic recording ;-)
Next was a large event in Essex, commissioned by people who had seen what good and bad dementia care felt like – and wanted to assemble a large group of very mixed perspectives to see how things could improve.
They hired Essex County Cricket Club to provide a memorable and welcoming environment. As you do.
There was a really lovely buzz as the event got underway
But perhaps most excitingly … this weekend there was a party for people living with dementia who only normally ever meet during the day.
It almost felt clandestine!
So here are some lovely photos and video clips posted during the party – wonderful to see people of all ages having fun together … and many of them happen to be living with dementia.
So this blog is just a little round up of some of the growing legacy of our West Kent project.
Look out for more as we are planning to party more, not least with the club that I have been proud to champion since their defiant beginnings… The Healthy Living Club ;-)
Please DM me at @WhoseShoes or via the blog if you would like a copy of the end of project report… but be warned, it is rapidly becoming out of date because the end of project was more a beginning.
Last week, I did a presentation at the “Quality Outcomes for People with Dementia” conference in London.
In a week’s time I will be presenting with Ken Howard at the European Alzheimer’s conference in Glasgow. And then, in November, at the Dementia Congress in Brighton.
All of these are wonderful opportunities to talk about our work and a huge privilege as well as a chance to meet more wonderful people and catch up with many friends.