The last couple of weeks have felt very significant in pursuing our NHS Change Day campaign pledges, connecting people living with dementia and helping them have a voice.
I have been working intensively with Ken Howard. It has been wonderful to help Ken have a variety of opportunities to get his important messages across, including publishing his powerful and moving new film and blog on Friday. In turn, it has been very rewarding to see people really listening , particularly those who are in a position to influence major change. As someone living with younger onset dementia, Ken has an urgency that really makes people sit up and think. The simplicity of his messages mean that it is hard to sit on the fence and do nothing. It is wonderful to see him growing in confidence… and self confidence.
So what have we been up to?
I loved being able to involve Ken in our final workshop as part of our Dementia Friendly Communities programme in West Kent.
I have written several blogs about this and there has been a huge amount of energy both in the fantastic events and team involved and as reflected through social media. Many people have said they have felt as if they have been there and I guess this is a great way of making a much wider impact. Sharing the sessions through blogging, Twitter and Pinterest reaches the parts that traditional projects cannot reach! I think these informal networks and new ways of connecting with people are a key part of the powerful vision but Helen Bevan set out last week in her enchanting and engaging 2024 film.
Certainly it was as if Ken had been there in Kent at all the sessions because we showed his wonderful film (like Helen’s, made with the help of Patient Voices) at all our sessions.
Ken has become a bit of a celebrity as his myth busting messages, symbolised by his Harley motorbike, are now immortalised on all the graphic records that were produced!
But Ken in person came down to the final workshop. We had held him in reserve as I was very determined to get local people living with dementia involved in all our sessions. It is all too easy to just keep including the same people and not realising others also have a fantastic contribution to make, if only they are given the chance.
Sandra Springett and the team in Kent have risen to this challenge and I’m delighted to say that we have succeeded in this goal, and indeed in all aspects as far as I can tell. The formal evaluation, including reviewing all the wonderful pledges made as people took ownership, is now underway. We are looking for ways to keep the fires ablaze and spread further afield. It is odd when the end of a project feels more like a beginning… 😉
It was great that we had a couple of people from our emerging maternity project
And Ian McCreath came from the National Alzheimer’s Society.
Ken was really thrilled that Ian listened very seriously to his simple but powerful ideas about peer support. And so was I. 😉
This is central to our NHS Change Day pledge (more of that anon.)
We are looking forward to taking these ideas forward.
We also had a series of meetings in London, each with direct outcomes.
Firstly, I was delighted to introduce Ken to Pippa Kelly (‘writer, campaigner, Mum’).
You may have seen the wonderful blog that Pippa wrote about Ken as a direct result of this meeting. If not, I strongly recommend that you read it here.
We then met with Alex and Mike from Baobab Therapy and discussed ideas for a myth-busting Whose Shoes? event in Essex in the autumn.
And finally we met a researcher who is interested in innovative approaches. There seem to be several projects interested in innovation in dementia and collating similar information at the moment – I wonder if they will get together…
Ken celebrated his 60th birthday and I think enjoyed rocking into the next decade on his precious Harley. Happy birthday, Ken!
Meanwhile, I went off to visit Samantha Jones and her team at West Hertfordshire Hospitals Trust.
There was no set agenda, just a genuine and exciting interest in each other’s work. If I tell you that Samantha knows her onions, that will set the scene. And she does.
We met in person for the first time when Sam was speaking about the Onion scheme at the Quality and Safety conference in Paris in April and I was presenting Whose Shoes? later in the day in the prestigious Amphiteatre Bleu of the Palais des Congres. I was impressed by the whole concept of Onion as it represents a regular, consistent, transparent system of improving Patient Safety and Patient Experience. It was definitely worth leaving home at 6.am on a Monday morning and braving the M1 and I really enjoyed seeing a vibrant session in action and the insights that it gave into a dedicated team tackling the realities of an over-stretched acute hospital.
Senior staff were very generous with their time and I spent most of the day there, exploring in particular dementia-related care and visiting the oasis of calm that was the new Dementia Suite, named after and officially opened by our very own #hellomynameis Dr Kate Granger.
On a sunny day, it was a pleasure to hold a mini Whose Shoes? session in the sunny garden!
I have no idea what this visit will lead to but I have good vibes as sometimes you just find a bit of energy and synergy that is a bit special 🙂
I was only sorry that I didn’t go a few days later as the official opening of the garden looked great fun! And they had cakes!
But I couldn’t have gone then because I was too busy plotting and planning with Ken.
Last Thursday and Friday we had two big events that, if we had stopped to think about it, were way outside our comfort zones. But we didn’t; so they weren’t 😉
On Thursday we presented an (almost) Pecha Kucha at the ‘Innovations in Dementia’ conference at the Barbican in London.
We were thrilled to be part of a panel of ‘small’ dynamic innovators, herded together by the inimitable Sarah Reed who presented her wonderful REAL communications work throughout the day.
This event really deserves a blog on its own but I will just pull in a few tweets to give you a flavour.
As for our session, suffice to say that potatoes, Scrabble, motor bikes and Ken’s sartorial elegance all featured.
On a very hot day, Ken’s choice of shorts proved to be a winner and he promised some challenging behaviour if anyone tried to make him wear a suit. Yes, you can probably see why I love working with this guy.
And all of this was feeding beautifully into the main event which was the wonderful 12 hour WebEx on Friday 4 July celebrating the impact of NHS Change Day.
Ken and I were hugely honoured to be invited to speak live for 45 minutes about our campaign and what we are doing to fulfil it.
We were not short of material. I think a little film is going to be made of this so I hope they capture some good bits, but it felt buzzy and fun. We were initially invited to have a separate slot each but I am glad we stuck our necks out and asked to do the whole thing as an informal conversation. We had never done this before but it felt right as everything we do is about informal conversations. I know Helen Bevan and the NHS Improving Quality / Horizons Team love #boatrockers so I hope they liked the result.
And of course, we turned up on the Harley… which in itself may well lead to a new opportunity it seems… 😉
As you can see we have some fun. I leave you with this lovely message that Ken sent me over the weekend. It made me smile. I hope you enjoy it too.