The New Year is nearly here and lots of people are posting fab end-of year round-ups. It has been a bit of a mega year here at Whose Shoes?® Lots and lots of highlights, including the launch of the electronic version of Whose Shoes?®, aligned to the Making It Real agenda, in collaboration with Think Local, Act Personal (TLAP).
But the more recent ‘stand out’ events (in no particular order) have all involved working directly with some amazing people who are living with younger onset dementia, (and hopefully helping to smash a few stereotypical ideas among some people along the way!):
1. Presenting a Whose Shoes? workshop at a wonderfully over-subscribed 23rd Alzheimer European conference in Malta and receiving whole-hearted support and endorsement from the European Working Group for people living with dementia. We are planning great things in 2014!
2. Working with highly motivated multi-disciplinary students from across the country at the College of Medicine Summer School using real-life perspectives to explore some of the key issues for people living with dementia / cognitive impairment here in the UK.
3. A “#dementiachallengers special” workshop at the prestigious Dementia Congress in Nottingham, co-facilitating for the first time with Sarah Reed, who does wonderful work around in-depth, compassionate communications.
4. And, most excitingly of all, taking Whose Shoes? to Australia and working in partnership with my inspirational friend and colleague Kate Swaffer, chair of the Australian Dementia Advisory Group. We are hoping to write a joint blog ( or two!) soon with some of the highlights of our intense programme of meetings and workshops across three States. But we have been too busy following up some of the amazing contacts we made … and indeed enjoying Christmas! 🙂
So, I am finally posting a light-hearted blog I wrote on the plane on the long journey home. Some A-Z Reflections on Australia, including a photo gallery at the end. A somewhat random mix of work-related and informal thoughts. After all, it would be crazy to go all the way to Australia without enjoying the wonderful outdoor life, sunshine and wildlife alongside all the hard work.
Thank you to those of you who followed our adventures ‘live’ on Twitter (@whoseshoes and @kateSwaffer) and shared some of the fun we had!
Anyway, this is what I wrote on the plane:
It was a bit of an act of faith to take Whose Shoes? to Australia but the experience and outcomes exceeded my wildest dreams. I will blog about this when I have had a chance to reflect a bit more…and indeed get some sleep! 😉 But here I am with some random reflections as I fly home, exhausted and exhilarated in equal measure…
Australia! ( but not the best time to be in Adelaide for the Ashes)
Boris – Kate Swaffer’s lovely Russian Blue cat
Consumer Directed Care – we used Whose Shoes? to explore the issues
Dementia – and #dementiachallengers! New Whose Shoes? tools coming soon!
Expert by Experience – this important concept is catching on in Australia
Energy – there is a real energy for positive change
Fabulous people we met! And our special friends in Sydney.
Film – we played Kate’s moving film about being diagnosed with dementia
Gumby, good friend of Pokey… you live and learn…
Holistic – a whole life, not just a set of services
Innovation! Whose Shoes? is innovative 🙂
Jacarandas -lovely #purple trees! And the James Bond exhibition in Melbourne!
Journal of Dementia Care – great honour to meet Professor Richard Fleming!
Koalas, kangaroos … and Kate!
Kri Kri Greek restaurant for a Melbourne tweet-up!
Licensing – I am updating the licence to include Australia 🙂
Live link – a videolink from one of our workshops – a first for City of Salisbury Council!
Melbourne – and indeed Murray Bridge. Town and country workshops!
National Disability Insurance Scheme – a driving force
Opportunity presented by the G8 Dementia Summit…
Possums running over the roof
Pinterest – (thank you Andrew Coulson!) – here is our Australia Pinterest board!
Qantas support Kate with assisted travel. Great idea!!
Research – we visited wonderful Research Centres (Dementia Training Study Centres)
Rain! – disappointed that my son’s cricket match I had planned to see was rained off
#Sparklytree – we had a lot of fun spotting them!
Sydney – the best city in the world!
TACSI – The Australian Centre for Social Innovation – venue for one of our workshops
UKTI – who helped me a lot 🙂
Universities – fab meetings at New South Wales, La Trobe & Wollongong Universities 🙂
View! One McQuairie Place has the BEST view in Sydney
Victoria – and Alzheimer’s Victoria where we ran two workshops
Whose Shoes? workshops – and wonderfully participative people!
Wallabies, wombats… and indeed Woodentops (UK match for Pokey and Gumby!)
Xciting and exhilarating and exhausting – everything about the trip really!
Young. Australia is a young person’s country? What about Younger Onset dementia?
Zzzz. Hoping to get some sleep on the plane… (…I didn’t!)
And so it is now New Year’s Eve. No-one knows what a New Year will bring but I would like to say a big ‘Thank you’ to Dr Sam Majumdar (@sammajumdar), a dedicated surgeon in Scotland, whom I have met and made friends with through Twitter in 2013. Sam has taught me to go with the #flow… and there is a lot of energy and flow at the moment.
So we’re planning to build on the work of 2013 and work with our special band of people to make a real difference to people who want to have a life rather than a ‘set of services’. Some of these people happen to be living with dementia – but it does not define them. This is the message we want to shout from the rooftops in 2014.
Happy New Year everyone…
and I hope you enjoy the ‘Australia photo gallery’.