Download the presentation here: Dementia Diaries Development
Maidstone Mentors is a project that is being trialled alongside Maidstone Peer Support group, the Alzheimer’s Society, and Kent and Medway Primary Trust (KMPT). The idea for the project came from members of the peer support group and was supported by learning from the insight gathering we had carried out across Kent with people living with dementia, carers and professionals. Many people said that once they had received a diagnosis they felt completely alone, “like stepping off a cliff”, not knowing where they could go or who they could speak to. People said that they often didn’t know where to turn to for support; but that once they had found support it played a very big part in their continued wellbeing.
We identified that there needed to be *something* to fill the gap between being diagnosed and finding support but we were not sure what it might look like at that point.
The idea for Maidstone Mentors came from Tom who attends Maidstone Peer Support group. Tom had previously reached out to his GP offering his phone number to be passed onto people who had been recently diagnosed so that he could listen to their worries and let them know that support is out there. He wanted to prevent anyone else feeling as alone as he had when he was diagnosed. This initial attempt did not receive any phone calls however; the other members of the peer support group could see the value in trying something like this more officially. We continued to work with the Maidstone Peer Support group to discuss and shape what the scheme might look like, decided upon the name, ‘Maidstone Mentors’, and gained two volunteer mentors, Tom and Brian.
From this point we began to discuss in more detail how the Maidstone Mentors would work in practice. We all agreed that there would need to be an organisation behind Tom and Brian and as the Alzheimer’s Society run the Maidstone Peer Support group it was a natural step for them to be the ones to support it. We also recognised KMPT would need to be involved and began talking to them about how the scheme might work.
Working together we all agreed that the Maidstone Mentors would:
- Attend Memory Clinic post-diagnostic course to talk to newly diagnosed people about what Maidstone Mentors offers and hand out contact information
- Not provide advice but rather be someone who will listen
- Share their own experience of being diagnosed and finding support
- Tell people what is available locally
- Signpost people to a specified person at Alzheimer’s Society if they feel they are unable to assist the newly diagnosed person they are in contact with
The Alzheimer’s Society provided support and informal training and are the organisation behind the mentors. They ensure that the mentors continue to find taking part rewarding and make sure it is still within their wellbeing to be a mentor. The KMPT Memory Clinic staff also supported the scheme and allowed the mentors to attend the post-diagnosis course so they could introduce themselves to newly diagnosed people.
The scheme has been trialled for nearly a year now and a formal evaluation has been carried out. The evaluation has suggested some recommendations to further develop the scheme and has looked into how the scheme can be developed and adapted so that it may be trialled in other areas across Kent. The evaluation will be available shortly.
For more information about the Maidstone Mentors please email: [email protected]
Kelly and I visited the Mayhew Animal Home in Kensal Green, London to find out more about their Therapaws project. Therapaws is a community project where animals are taken into care settings to engage and interact with the people who live there. We were paired up with Janet and Lisa, and Lisa’s dogs Sid and Bruce, to go to one of their sessions at a care home in Harrow.
It was clear to see how the dogs presence brings something different to the care home setting. People were able to stroke the dogs, give them treats, or even sing to them. People remembered and talked about their own pets. The volunteers have got to know the residents and take the time to sit down and talk with them, they know which residents enjoy interacting with the dogs and over the months can see the long term benefits. One gentleman in particular is very fond of the dogs and while we were there spent time in the care home’s garden walking them. The care home is currently looking into whether they would be able to get a resident dog for the gentleman.
It was a really enjoyable day for us (SILK are a team of dog lovers anyway!) and we are really interested to see if we can trial working with dogs under the Kent Dementia Friendly Communities project.
A big thank you to the Mayhew Animal Home for letting us attend one of their sessions.
More information on the Therapaws project can be found here: http://themayhew.org/communityprojects/therapaws-showing-the-benefit-of-interaction-with-animals/
The Canterbury Times has written an article about the Dementia Action Allaince Launch and Marketplace that was held last week: www.canterburytimes.co.uk/Dementia-Action-Alliance-launch-Canterbury/story-21029997-detail/story.html
The Dementia Diaries is featured in the March edition of the Saga magazine. Described as 'funny, emotional and charming':
There is also an article on the Dementia Diaries in the Winter 2013 edition of Dementia Focus magazine, where it is described as 'touching and funny'. Dementia Focus magazine can be downloaded here: Download Dementia Focus
The last few days have been a whirlwind of activity. I joined SILK’s Emma Barrett on a Dementia Diaries tour of Denmark, hosted by MitdLab. (Mitdlab are a Social Innovation Lab for the Central Jutland region of Denmark)
We were warmly welcomed at Aarborg Airport by Jens Peter and Berit from MitdLab and taken to Aarhus for the beginning of our adventure.
The region has a population of just over 1.2 million, for context, Kent has nearly 1.5 million. They also have a similar need for Dementia Friendly Communities. We visited community centres, hospitals, schools and care homes during our trip and met many people affected by Dementia. This is really a global problem and the sharing of ideas and resources is a great way to tackle this problem across borders. The book itself was very well received, as you can see in this video: http://youtu.be/hbsEFrsbwW8
Pupils from the Klejtrup Music school created a Danish rendition of the Braincell Boogie for the residents and visitors of Klejtrup Free Care Home. We had a great audience of over 90 people that night, and there was a great discussion about the need to tell stories like this, and whether Denmark should do a local version of the Dementia Diaries. But it was decided by the group that it would be better to translate the Diaries as they are, as the stories themselves are universal. The context may change, but the emotions stay the same.
During the evening, I read out a few extracts from the book; I chose funnier ones as they usually works better with a large crowd. But during the Q&A section of the evening, a young boy stood up and said in Danish, “These stories are funny, my granddad isn’t funny.” He clearly had the weight of the world on his shoulders and needed something to relate to. I told him that the book wasn't just funny, and that there some very sad and serious stories too. We gave him a copy of the book and a link to our video interviews with children in Kent going through the same things he’s going through.
We watched him leave that evening, with the book grasped tightly to his chest. I feel like it might make a difference to him. We had a another group of children at the event draw on a big sheet of paper. I asked them to draw what made them happy. They drew animals, their family, their friends…. One even drew a snail wearing a scarf… But what was interesting was that they wrote in English. They wanted to say hello to children in Britain. They wanted to share and communicate. They wanted to connect.
This really summed up what we’re trying to do with the Dementia Dairies. We want young people to connect through the stories and to become brave enough to share their own. This visit to Denmark showed me that there’s a great need for this. And I think the Dementia Diaries could be a way for us to open up dialogue with children affected by Dementia all around the world. It certainly reminded me of the value that lives in sharing stories about Dementia, to know you’re not alone and that you’re not necessarily the only person feeling the way you feel.
There was also a great morning at MidtLab where Emma gave a presentation on exactly how SILK works and their focus on STARTING WITH PEOPLE. The audience was hastily scribbling notes the whole time as Emma went through a detailed process using cue cards and structures and motives. But then she pulled out a blank sheet of paper. She said, “none of this matters, all you need is a blank sheet of paper.” Because people don’t fit inside structures or processes. They are the structure. They are the process. And a blank sheet of paper opens up endless possibilities, as you can see with the children at the care home. The success of the Dementia Diaries is testament to this approach.
Come along to our 'Dementia Friendly Marketplace' in on the 24th April in Canterbury, Kent. Find out about what we've been working on and meet people who are making a difference to the lives of people living with dementia. Everyone is welcome. More information is available on the flyer below:
View Kent County Council's press release here: http://www.kent.gov.uk/about-the-council/news/news-and-press-releases/dementia-diaries-highly-commended-in-national-care-awards