This week AESOP Consortium and The Open Channel has begun to pilot a short programme of Accelerated Learning Sets to help public, voluntary and private sector partners work out how to make their communities more Dementia-Friendly.
Building on the experience of their work for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation 'Creating a Dementia-Friendly York', Janet Crampton, Janet Dean and Ruth Eley have devised an Accelerated Learning Programme which supports professional and community partners in supporting and challenging one another to make where they live and work more dementia-friendly.
Supported by the Department of Health and with the opportunity to feed the outcomes of the programme directly into the Prime Minister's Challenge via the Alzheimer's Society, the Accelerated Learning Programme is being piloted in two locations in the north, with interest building from across the country from partners keen to participate in the roll out of the work later this year.
Why should we become more dementia-friendly?
Statistics show that dementia is increasing with the rising numbers of older people. The programme aims to increase the confidence and skills of health, social care, voluntary and community and private sector partners who are providing any kind of service to people with dementia in the community. The programme is focused on the needs of people with dementia and their carers and can involve them directly in the learning process. We are not just interested in health and social care services, but in all aspects of the community - the physical environment, the people, the leisure and commercial resources that people use.
How can we become more dementia-friendly?
Our approach is solutions-focused and will help you lay the foundation for becoming dementia-friendly by working within and across the whole organisation, locality or business sector. If you are committed to supporting people to live well with dementia the programme can help you identify how to adjust your overall approach, refocus specific services and improve your environment.
How does Accelerated Learning work?
Starting from the premise that you are already interested in becoming more dementia-friendly, we offer an approach that doesn’t start at square one. We start by helping you to identify what you already do that is dementia friendly. Then we work with you to build an understanding and commitment across and between the sectors about what is most important for you at the moment and what is going to accelerate your progress towards becoming dementia-friendly. We’ll bring you examples of good practice for you to consider adopting, showing you places that are already someway down the track, and we will
bring you expert speakers who will inspire you to change your place too.
Who would be involved in an Accelerated Learning Programme?
We will ask you to nominate a learning ‘set’ of no fewer than 6, no more than 15 people. They should be people who have the power to influence change in your community or organisation, who recognise the challenge of dementia, and who are willing to work with partners to ensure that being dementia-friendly becomes your normal way of operating.
How is an Accelerated Learning Programme structured?
Reflecting your requirements, we would offer to design you a programme taking into account what works well or what might need to change in each of four domains, which we call the ‘cornerstones’ of dementia-friendly communities or organisations. The experienced team from AESOP and The Open Channel will work with you at your venue, normally over a fixed number of days, depending on what you require. A sample programme might cover:
• An introductory session where we will work with you to establish your baseline position, looking at where you are now.
• Further sessions where we will use the Four Cornerstones of Place, People, Networks and Resources to help you develop a rich understanding of how you can become more dementia-friendly, and
• Support to enable you commit to an Action Plan for the future
Issues that are emerging in the pilot Programme - do these resonate with you?
- Access to services (diagnosis, referral, experience of the person with dementia)
- Awareness of dementia and wider awareness of mental health issues, particularly in older age
- Fear and Stigma
- Lack of early support for carers
- Lack of training of health and social care workforce
- Lack of awareness in local services - e.g shops, banks
- Poor support for single people, people without family carers
- Too much emphasis on what people with dementia can't do rather than what they can.
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