THE START OF A FANTASTIC OPPORTUNITY TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
Did you follow the launch of our Dementia Friendly Communities project in Kent? Last week’s blog, describing the build up to the project, has attracted a lot of interest.
The launch event was exciting as this approach is innovative. We have a really passionate team on board, tapping into some very strong networks in Kent, so there was plenty of energy! 😉
It is the first time Whose Shoes?® has been used in this way. We have co-produced a brand new set of cards but, as always, with the same intentions: triggering some very real conversations, firing people up to want to make a difference and working together to see what we can all DO about the issues raised.
Well my approach to most things is not very systematic – more organic, random, going with where the energy is.
I have the simple view that if we can achieve energy, passion and happy customers keeping in touch and telling us what they are doing differently as a result of Whose Shoes?® sessions, then that is a very good thing. And hopefully these blogs capture some of that energy. My friend Dr Sam Majumdar calls it #flow.
We are building on the legacy of the excellent Kent Digital care event , July 2013.
Hopefully, with the bigger project in Kent – sixteen more Whose Shoes?® workshops over just two months, using brand new scenarios – we have the chance to capture some real outcomes.
And it has been fascinating to see what has already happened in the build up to the project and over the first few days of the project. This blog aims to capture the flavour rather than the detail.
We are tapping into a wonderful evolving network – and we are building networks.
At the launch event itself, we pushed the boundaries a bit.
Someone stated, in all seriousness, that people who have dementia cannot peel potatoes.
‘Health’ and ‘safety’ got mentioned somewhere in the same sentence as part of the explanation. Hmm. My Mum in law peeled the carrots long after her diagnosis of dementia. Perhaps carrots are a bit safer. 😉
Oh, and now I think of it, my friends Kate Swaffer and Ken Howard, both living with dementia, prepare most of the meals in their households. I just hope their families do not mind a potato famine.
So we asked people in the room. What else can’t people living with dementia do?
The answers came thick and fast – I am hoping that most of them were tongue in cheek. “They can’t work” or indeed make any useful contribution, “they can’t decide what to wear”, or indeed have any choice in anything, they are unable to drive, say what they want… the list went on.
I was dying for my friend Ken Howard to rock up on his Harley Davidson but he was too busy having small sandwiches at St James Palace, receiving his fantastic award for his contribution… Ah yes, contribution. Well done, myth-buster extraordinaire, Ken Howard.
Oh, and by the way, Ken and his friend Chris, both living with younger onset dementia and both bikers, met through Whose Shoes?®. And that is one outcome I am very proud about because that is the stuff you can’t buy. 😉
One key outcome from the project will be whether we succeed in including some people living with dementia in our workshops.
They are very, very welcome. “Nothing about us without us”.
Watching Ken’s film, showing how he re-built his Harley Davidson , helped a bit with the myth-busting 😉
Interestingly, when I have said to some people that I like working with people living with dementia, they assume I mean carers… I mean carers too. In fact everyone.
I KNOW there will be people living with dementia in Kent who would enjoy joining our conversations…
I KNOW that the people attending will learn things by sitting chatting to people living with dementia. Things they cannot learn in information leaflets or government videos.
I was disappointed Ken couldn’t join me at the launch as he had been very keen to come. But we need to find people to support each other locally and make sustainable connections – and then the fires will spread. ‘Nothing about us, without us’ must be at central to a truly dementia-friendly community, not an add-on.
So what did we learn?
Lots of local information
That lots of good stuff happens in libraries (@Gills_Mum will be pleased!)
That people do some really practical things as a result of our workshops – … like mapping all the library resources for people with dementia – and putting them on a website! Thanks Zoe and Lee… and everyone! 🙂
And so, not re-inventing the wheel
And Zoe wrote a great blog about it – including writing about our workshop and agreeing to become a Whose Shoes? facilitator!
I am delighted to have Zoe on board. Zoe looked after her husband with dementia for many years and her wealth of expertise and the lovely way she challenged some of the ‘myths’ in the room are just what we need. And she ‘gets’ Whose Shoes? 😉
We captured the key outcomes and will use as a record to drive our project
And we are keen to share the expertise
We got lots of people making pledges
Inevitably, some of the best ones were made by people not on Twitter, but people wrote them down and we collected them up. People pledged to tell their colleagues, fellow councillors, neighbours , WI members… the list goes on… to come to our local sessions and to spread the word.
We got new people using Twitter – including Tracey, the Dementia Friendly Communities Lead 🙂
I pledged to put together a Pinterest board
I did indeed enjoy putting together the Pinterest board but we had fun and games trying to set it up so that everyone could post news and information. We had another health and safety alert 😉
But it was worth it because people liked it
And it sparked some ideas in other parts of the country … and in different service areas
And this is just the start
So, we have to issue our own ‘Health and Safety’ warning