First of all, huge thanks to Ken Howard! How good is this?!
Dementia Skills Network was launched by Skills for Health in November, 2013 as part of the ‘My Health Skills’ initiative. It now has nearly 100 members networking and sharing good practice around dementia care. A good start but with lots of scope to grow and blossom. So we ran a Whose Shoes?®, workshop last week to help it along a bit!
So, how did it all come about?
As part of the launch of Dementia Skills, I was very honoured to be invited to take part in a ‘Round table’ discussion in London, with a lovely mixed group of people, united by our passion to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia. (I am sitting next to my good friend Dr Shibley Rahman, a.k.a @legalaware, whose ‘Living well with dementia’ book has just been published!). Our discussions were filmed and live tweeted; you can see one of the videos here.
The person driving the agenda was my co-founder of #dementiachallengers, Sally-Ann Marciano (@nursemaiden). We had all followed the way she courageously shared the story of her beloved father Ray as she and her family struggled to find the support they needed, particularly at the end of her father’s life. Sally made a fervent plea to commissioners of dementia services: “So please please as a daughter who lost a beloved father to Alzheimer’s, invest in Primary Care, provide dementia nurses to coordinate care for our loved ones, raise awareness and help reduce stigma and this in turn will bring people forward for diagnosis knowing they are not going to be diagnosed into a life without care and support.”
The round table participants were keen to do more. And so, I was invited to run a Whose Shoes?® , workshop last week in Birmingham: “Commissioning for dementia care – getting it right.” And a very lively session it was too, with dementia commissioners from across the country sitting alongside people living with dementia, carers and a wide range of care providers, working together to explore what needs to happen next, particularly around workforce attitudes, values and skills.
The agreed outcomes for our session were as follows:
Outcome for Commissioners:
To understand better the issues that face people living with dementia and their families and carers to inform the appropriate commissioning of services
Outcome for staff and managers:
To understand better the values and attitudes that need to be adopted in order to deliver high quality person centred care
Outcome for people using services and carers:
An opportunity to engage with those who commission and deliver healthcare services and to help to influence the shape and form of service delivery
We developed some new bespoke Whose Shoes?® scenarios, aligned to the
Common Core Principles for Supporting People with Dementia. We mixed people up on different tables to ensure as many different perspectives as possible. People had name badges but no roles or organisations on display. Whose Shoes?® aims to involve everyone as equals, as people, bringing their whole life experience rather than putting people in boxes.
Soon, as always ,there was a huge buzz in the room
as people explored the key issues.
We were fortunate indeed to have the wonderful graphic recording and facilitation skills of my friend and colleague Anna Geyer, (@new_possibiliti). Key points were recorded live. Anna recorded the issues as they arose, rather than sticking slavishly to the Core Principles as it is important to record what people actually say. Some strong themes emerged.
It was a pleasure and privilege, as always, to work with Ken Howard (@kenhowarduk).
Ken lives with dementia and was ‘the best asset in the room.’
It felt very special – but all too rare – for people to get this first hand experience, learning from an expert by experience such as Ken.
We also had carers and ex-carers in the room, several of whom have written guest blogs for our ‘in my shoes’ series. Suzy Webster (@suzysopenheart) told people the significance of the chicken photo I included in my presentation. Her Mum knows to ‘turn right at the chicken‘ – follow the link to read the full story.
Similarly Dorothy Hall (@dozzahall) told us how hard it can be looking after a loved one with dementia in a different country!
Exciting when Anna started tweeting some of the
key messages from the day:
And a very powerful point made by a lady in a wheelchair that she needs to be able to rely on statutory, well-regulated services, not the whims of neighbours.
We were all very sad that Sally has been unwell and couldn’t be there. I hope we did her proud.
The most important thing is for everyone to keep networking and follow up all the fab pledges that were made at the end of the workshop. Most people wrote down at least three things they are going to do differently or start to do now as a direct result of the conversations and learning from the workshop.
Congratulations and huge thanks to Mike Ewins (@MikeEwins) for kicking off the follow up conversations with this lovely Storify from the event.
Mike’s ‘in my shoes’ guest blog has been a very popular contribution to the series.
We encourage everyone, whether you were at the workshop or not, to register on the Dementia Skills website and to join the conversations. I will update the blog with any more information from Skills for Health – eg with a link to the final graphics and video from the session.
We have some specific plans to use Whose Shoes?® on a widespread basis to support good practice in dementia care, particularly around dementia friendly communities. Watch this space also to see how the Whose Shoes?® approach will be used as part of the mega NHS Expo event 3/4 March.