TOP 10 #dementiachallengers tips for College of Medicine Summer School

Today I am very excited. I am presenting two Whose Shoes? ‘special’ workshops for the College of Medicine Summer School! I have a lot to live up to because the College of Medicine has written some nice things about Whose Shoes?

So what makes them ‘special’? Well, to be honest, I like to think that all Whose Shoes? workshops are special because they are created and tailored for the particular group. Each one is very different and that is what I enjoy.

But today I have an opportunity to work with students – and I love working with students. In this case, our future healthcare professionals – people who might be looking after *ME* in my dotage – so what better reason to get things right? 😉

But these are students from across the country – multi-disciplinary, multi-perspective, multi-talented. I was thrilled to hear that so many students applied to be part of the Summer School – willing to give up a Saturday to learn about how it feels to live with dementia. (N.B.  I’d normally be watching @alpot103 in a clash of local rivals : Knowle and Dorridge CC v Berskswell CC, so I share the pain!).

‘Walking in the shoes’ of people living with Young Onset Dementia is the theme of our workshop and I am truly honoured to be co-presenting with the ‘real’ people. One person in particular has told me how thrilled he is because normally he “just stands at the front and tells his story” but this is an interactive opportunity for him to engage with the students and co-produce some solutions.

The students’ responses and ideas will be collated and graphically recorded with the unique skills of Anna Geyer from New Possibilities. The messages will build and grow and feed into the workshop I am presenting in partnership with Think Local, Act Personal (TLAP) and European people living with dementia, at the European Alzheimer’s conference in Malta in October. Hopefully it will also add material for some work in Australia with the inspirational Kate Swaffer. Yes, things have moved on a LOT since we met as ‘imaginary friends’ only six weeks ago!

Global #dementiachallengers :)

Global #dementiachallengers 🙂

I won’t give too much away but the College of Medicine workshops will concentrate on specific key messages from the individuals involved and explore what we can actually DO to listen and come up with practical solutions. I don’t know about you but I think a group of highly motivated, clever students will meet this challenge and indeed astound us all.
So no pressure there then.

Anyway, in order to get the Whose Shoes? workshop started on the right foot (and indeed the left foot) I asked our #dementiachallengers for *Hot Tips*. As always, they leapt to the challenge. Here are some of the suggestions:


And for the pedantic ones among you, no I probably can’t count. Top Ten (ish). But there again, Whose Shoes? was never meant to be about slavish adherence to rules. 🙂

in the Comments box below:)

And students… please add your feedback on the workshops…

About Gill Phillips - Whose Shoes?

Passionate about personalisation in health & social care. Creator of Whose Shoes? - an imaginative approach to helping people work together to improve lives.
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9 Responses to TOP 10 #dementiachallengers tips for College of Medicine Summer School

  1. Gillian Winship says:

    A person with dementia’s life is often shaped and determined by a careplan – an administrative form that sets out a person’s needs but does not always take account of an individual’s personality, particularly when there are no relatives to support that person. In essence, a careplan shapes a person when ideally a person should shape a careplan.
    One care plan doesnt suit all. Take time to get to know a person before commiting them to a careplan for a year until the next review.
    We all have dreams and aspirations in life no different to a person with dementia. The only thing stopping a person with dementia in fulfilling theirs is a hurried not thought out careplan.
    Would we not want to live a life that wasn’t full of new and exciting things just because a social worker who had never met us had written a care plan restricting the days we could take part in activities?
    Remember that careplans are followed exactly by careworkers who are often afraid to use discretion. This can lead to, for example, a breakfast of toast for the 365 day duration of the careplan purely because the author has been carelessly prescriptive.


    • Thank you Gillian for these important insights.
      “Take time to get to know a person before committing them to a care plan for a year until the next review”
      “A breakfast of toast for the 365 day duration of the care plan purely because the author has been carelessly prescriptive.”

      I will also flag this up with Helen Sanderson whose “One page profiles” are very relevant here. Meanwhile, take a look at Winifred’s story in our ‘in my shoes’ series:


  2. Define us and speak to us based on the people we still are… mothers, fathers, lovers, daughters, wives or husbands, employees or employers, grandmothers, aunties, rather than by the symptoms of our disease – forgetful, confused, aggressive, angry, odd behaviour, absconders, mute or refusing to communicate. Focus on what we can do, not on what we can’t. 🙂


  3. Thank you, as always, Kate. These sentiments were echoed exactly by Ken and Larry who joined us and shared their lived experience at our Whose Shoes? workshops on Saturday. Hardly surprising. It is what we would ALL want 🙂 x


  4. Tessa Gutteridge says:

    Gill, enjoy reading Whose Shoes, always makes me stop and ponder – will be especially interested in the ideas and solutions from the workshop on walking in the shoes of people living with young onset dementia – hope it works well for you all. Tessa

    Tessa Gutteridge


    01993 776295 07792 272218

    Charity No 1085595 Company 4142850


  5. Thank you for your kind comments, Tessa. We explored three different ‘stories’. Hoping to blog about this shortly, especially when College of Medicine have collated the feedback and outcomes, but it felt very positive and practical. For example, the students had really good ideas to help our first ‘guest’, who has young onset dementia and struggles with reading and writing, having previously been a keen reader.

    They were not only suggesting audio solutions but specific software packages – a wonderful spin-off of working with technology-savvy young people! We were thrilled by their deep interest and caring approach. At the end of the two Whose Shoes workshops, there were many specific pledges re what the students would do, individually and collectively, as a direct result of these sessions and the wider Summer School programme, which was full of inspirational speakers and content.


  6. helensanderson says:

    Great suggestions! Mine would be to start with a one-page profile so that everyone knows what is great about the person; what matters to them as an individual; and what good support looks like from their perspective.


  7. Varsha says:

    We use the word and reasoning for most decisions, for dementia patients we need to listen with other senses and also communicate to them so that they feel reassured. Taking time is the essence in our communication.


  8. Pingback: A powerful recipe: People living with dementia + Future health care leaders + the Whose Shoes? approach… | Whose Shoes?

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