It is with great pleasure that I introduce my friend and business associate, Anna Geyer.
I work very closely with Anna, co-facilitating many Whose Shoes? workshops. Whose Shoes? is a tool to trigger the key issues and get people talking and then Anna’s fabulous graphics bring them alive, capturing the key points for decision making and action planning. Anna is passionate about dementia care and has had very interesting experiences, so an obvious contributor to our “in my shoes” series. She has seen some encouraging changes over the past few years…
I started my career in Social Care as a care assistant working in a residential home for people with dementia – that was back in 1989. I left in 1992 vowing never to return to social care; such was my disillusionment about the care being provided to people with dementia in this particular setting. But you guessed it – I did return 5 years later!
In 2002, my grandmother died at the age of 96 with dementia in Paisley, Scotland. My mother and aunt had been her full time carers for 3 years, I supported them from a distance (In Birmingham) offering advice and support about person centred approaches to some of the challenges that they faced.
In 2009, I was delighted when New Possibilities was commissioned to deliver a programme of training and support for family members caring for someone with dementia. This was part of the Dementia Strategy for the Eastern Region of England. The programme was really well received. It was a very humbling experience meeting so many wonderful people who in many cases, despite the odds, were determined to ensure that their loved one got the care and support they needed.
The programme that was delivered shared an understanding of dementia using the SPECAL photograph album. The SPECAL method and approach to supporting people with dementia has been developed through the Contented Dementia Trust, based in Burford, Oxfordshire.
In March this year I had the pleasure of graphically recording the keynote presentations at the West Midlands Improvement and Efficiency event “From Strategy to Practice: Improving Dementia Care” It was really positive listening to Mark Grieves who talked about his experience as Managing Director of Ideal Care Homes and Hilda who looked 10 years younger after living there for a year. Mark also talked about the challenges ahead, to be able to provide fair and sustainable care in the future.
Andrea Pope Smith talked about building communities that understand about dementia, the need to redefine dementia, to see it as a disability rather than a medial disease. The need for whole system approach to transform the thinking about Dementia and the care and support people receive.
I also had the good fortune to run a workshop with Annette Darby from Dudley MBC. Our workshop looked at the Dementia Pathways that have been developed in response to the Dementia Strategy. The focus was to challenge some of the assumptions that may have been made in developing the pathways. For example it may be assumed:
- That early diagnosis unlocks access to support services and treatments.
- Or that the professionals who support a person with dementia are suitably trained
- Or that people who have dementia or care for a person with dementia have access to information.
Looking back now, to where I was 20 years ago, I am reassured that we’re moving in the right direction. I get a sense that a head of steam is building and that the future of dementia care will be person centred, people with dementia will be valued as citizens in local communities, and services will look significantly different from that in the early ‘90’s
Anna Geyer www.newpossibilities.co.uk