The Dementia Congress: Uniting to tackle a global issue
We headed down to the beachside town of Brighton for the 13th UK Dementia Congress. As always the event was a great opportunity to share experience and ideas, bringing together the latest innovations in dementia care, powerful personal stories and hard-hitting truths about the global scale of dementia.
People living with dementia co-creating services
An overwhelming theme throughout the event was around people living with dementia being actively involved in co-creating services to make them more accessible and effective.
Highlighting this point was Shirley, Frances, Madeline and ‘Dory’ (Teresa) from the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP) which aims give people with dementia a voice. The brave ladies spoke about their real life experiences and services that they find helpful.
Frances said: “Life started up again thanks to DEEP network. I realised you can live and live really well with this thing. And it empowers us as a network to make our voice heard locally and nationally.”
Dementia Diaries is another popular service for people living with the condition which allows users to record a series of audio diaries to capture their daily thoughts, with the aim of prompting dialogue and changing attitudes.
Dementia diarist Dory says: “It’s like a voicemail to myself before thoughts go off into the clouds, things that make me happy, sad, or angry. Dementia Diaries have helped to see me through challenging times and they bring people living with dementia together so we don’t feel so alone.”
Dory amused the crowd with a personal story about losing her way when out cycling one day - she said: “I ended up sitting on a rock in the middle of an industrial estate so I took the opportunity to record one of my diaries. Although initially worried about finding my way again or whether I should ring my daughter, recording the diary made me feel calm and I even ended up giggling to myself before I eventually found my way home.”
One of key aims for dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society is to make it easier for people living with dementia to be part of their community, which is why they created Dementia Friends. Individuals can learn about the small ways they can support people with dementia in everyday life while helping to spread the word about challenges and solutions.
Speaking at the Congress, Chief Executive of the Alzheimer's Society, Jeremy Hughes said: “We set an ambitious target of 1 million Dementia Friends in 2015 – and now we have 2.7 million people behind the cause, growing by around 5,000 a week!”
Paola Barbarino CEO of Alzheimer's Disease International (ADI) pointed out that although the UK is amongst the leaders for dementia awareness and care we still have a long way to go both here and around the world.
She added: “There is growing emphasis on risk reduction and prevention of dementia but governments must not forget about the people actually living with dementia now.”
The Four Seasons Dementia Experience
We demonstrated our commitment to dementia care by showcasing our Dementia Experience, which was a sell-out success with sessions running throughout the 3-day event.
The Experience involves restricting the participant’s vision, hearing and ability to concentrate then asking them to carry out simple everyday tasks.
Our Project Facilitators Laura Steward and Hannah Miller also presented ‘A shared experience: The impact of a dementia simulation on staff understanding and empathy’, which was very well received.
They explained that all of our colleagues take part in the Dementia Experience with feedback including an ‘improved self-confidence’ and ‘better able to care for residents living with dementia’.
The Dementia Experience is a key element of the Four Seasons Dementia Care Framework, a pioneering approach to providing dementia care, which uses innovative purpose-designed technology to help build and continuously update a picture of each resident’s individual experience of their care and their physical, psychological and emotional well-being, so that their care can be adjusted to take account of their changing needs.
You can find out more about our approach to dementia care here.
With hundreds of attendees, the Dementia Congress demonstrates the passion that people living with dementia, their loved ones, organisations and experts have and that together, we can make a real difference. We can’t wait to see what next year’s event will have in store.