Podcast Episode: Alzheimer Scotland: Annual Conference and Dementia Awards
Category: Mental health
What follows is a transcription of the audio recording. Due to differences between spoken and written English, the transcript may contain quirks of grammar and syntax.
MD - Michelle Drumm
KW - Kirsty Wilson
Iriss.fm recently spoke to Kirsty Wilson from Alzheimer’s Scotland about two upcoming events in 2017. Their annual conference and the Dementia awards. She also tells us about some of the exciting work being undertaken by Alzheimer’s Scotland this year.
KW Alzheimer’s Scotland’s main aim is to make sure that no one goes through dementia on their own, so that’s our main aim in everything that we do. We are the national voice for people of dementia and their carers in Scotland and we aim to improve public policies for the benefit of people with dementia and their carers, and we aim to provide the secure provision of high quality care and services for people with dementia and their families. So, those are our main aims and that’s very much what we stand for and everything that we do, we put the person with dementia and their family at the heart of everything that we do and we do various things we, as I say, provide services, we try to reduce stigmatisation around dementia, we do fund raising and campaigning. There are a whole scope of things and I just, I wanted to just flag a couple of things that we are working on at the moment, just as a bit of a taster, to give a bit of a flavour of some of the things that on the radar for Alzheimer’s Scotland at the minute, but as I say, it is very much just a taster, there is a whole scope of things that we are doing at the minute that I can’t, I would be here all day. I just think some things that would be interesting for people to hear about…
KW So, at the minute, I think one of the most notable things for people, is that we are bringing dementia to the high street. So, for the last year we have opened up an awful lot of dementia resource centres all across Scotland. We have got one here in Bridgeton in Glasgow, we have opened up one in Aberdeen, one down in Stranraer, so the whole breadth of the countryside. But these kinds of hubs are places that people can come along, whether it be a family member or a person with dementia, to interact with services that we provide, to be able to use them as information points to signpost people to, to get good advice no matter what stage of their journey that they are through. It’s just a drop-in area that’s really casual, it’s a safe environment, but also because they are on the high street it puts dementia right in the heart of the communities and it makes sure that when people come in and see us they are not being removed or disconnected, they are still very much part of the community and they are connected in that way. So, we are doing an awful lot of work around that at the minute and we are really excited to see the future of those hubs, and our link workers are involved in those areas so, again, I think we’ve got just over 100 now, link workers, and they are very much involved with supporting people for a year after they have been diagnosed with dementia and giving them some kind of signposts about things to think about and we work through our 5 pillar model with them, but those hubs are a really, really, exciting piece for us at the minute. Another kind of project that we are working on at the minute, and you might have seen some of the news coverage recently, is our Dementia Friends Project, our Dementia Friends Programme. We have got just over thirty two thousand dementia friends at the minute, and it’s a really easy way for people to get involved with the work of Alzheimer’s Scotland and just to become a little bit more informed about dementia and to raise their own awareness and find out little simple tips and hints about what they can do, personally, and also if they are maybe in a workplace, just little things that they can do that could help and, as I say, recently there has been a lot of press coverage about Tesco in Forres, about the relaxed checkout lane, that’s just a really nice example about how they have done a little bit of engagement with us through that programme and they have now introduced, it’s basically a relaxed, you just get a bit more time to go through the checkout so you don’t get flustered, which is something I think all of us could do with.
MD Yeh, especially in Aldi’s.
KW So I was thinking it’s great for everyone, but it’s just, you know that way, they went on that programme and it’s just a really nice and simple way, they just thought creatively, right well ok going back into our workspace, what could we do? What difference could we make? So, that’s fantastic and, as I said, a simple way for everyone to get involved in and that programme has really grown with numbers and it’s a great way just to even link in with us and kind of keep up to date with lots of other things that we are doing. Another thing that we have got on at the minute, I’m sure you are aware, any day now the government is due to announce the third strategy. So, we have been involved in the informing and shaping of that, we put together some consultation events, again, across the countryside, just to make sure that people with dementia and their carers, their voice was involved and they were heard and we took the feedback from those sessions and put it in for the strategy, so we are looking forward to seeing that coming out in the next couple of days, but we have also got a really big push on at the minute with the elections that are coming up. For us, just with the way that things are now structured with the integration boards, for us it’s really important that we make sure that dementia is a priority at a local level. So, we have got a really big push on it and I think there are 6000 candidates that we need to get in touch with, so that’s a big project for us at the minute. We are also working on, one of our big projects for the fundraising team is memory walks, and they will be happening in the month of September. So, the month of September sees World Alzheimer’s Day, but again they will be happening all across the countryside and we would encourage everyone to come along, you know, your dog, your granny, whoever, they are great days. So, we have got that going on at the minute.
MD Gosh, there is a lot going on.
KW Loads going on at the minute, and as I say, it’s probably just trying to give you a bit of a scope about, that we are literally involved in everything, as I say, whether it’s fundraising vital funds that we need or whether it’s campaigning with Scottish Government and some of our other critical friends, working with partners, whether it’s providing services and that kind of tailored support, you know, across the board we are involved in everything, but I think the one thing for us is making sure that no one goes through dementia on their own and everything that we do, whether it’s informal consultations, we always make sure that the voice of people with dementia and their carers are at the heart of everything that we do. So, in June we’ve got our annual conference and it’s going to be held on 2nd June at the Edinburgh International Conferencing Centre, this year the theme is International Insights, National Innovation and Local Inspiration, bit of a mouthful. That’s our theme for this year and just continuing, it’s something we do every year, and it’s continuing on the dialogue again with just how the evolution of the sector is going and we have got lots of speakers coming, both locally, nationally and internationally. We’ve got a lady coming from America, we’ve got two chaps coming from Australia, from Hammond Care, as well as lots of local speakers as well. We are all coming together, there will probably be about 500 delegates there on the day, so it’s a great day to meet up with peers, chat with them about ideas, just do a bit of networking, and as well as the main programme we’ve got some fantastic sessions on there. We’ve got a section on there about what’s next for Scotland, just being mindful of what’s going on at the minute, we are under one of the hardest time with, you know, funding being cut, and we need to think more creatively about how we are working together, so we are just going to ask, what’s next for Scotland? What is coming down the line? Also looking as well at, we’ve got a piece on what might happen next for dementia research, just with the pending Brexit that’s on the horizon so, again, just asking questions and looking at that aspect, what will that mean for us and our daily practice? What will that mean for research? One of my favourite sections is, we’ve got a section on prevention. So, we are specifically looking at food and drink, so a lot of the headlines we are seeing at the minute, you will see crazy things like, “eat blueberries and it will stave off dementia”, they are quite over-emphasised headlines, so we are just going to delve into that a little bit and have a look at that and what that means, and we have got one chap from the Scottish Dementia Working Group coming along, he is going to talk about what all these headlines mean, whether it be about research or, there is a lady coming along from the National Carer’s Group, and she is going to say, “look, whenever I see these headlines, what do they mean to me? What do I do with them? Are the positive or are they negative?” and just explore that, you know, having a look at the research, but looking at that, about what that means personally and if there is anything else that we can do just to make it a little bit more positive or put a little bit more context to it to maybe diminish some of these outrageous headlines, because they are a little bit misleading and a little bit confusing, so a really full on plenary programme, but as well as that plenary programme we’ve got up to ten parallel sessions that will look at various bits and pieces, whether it be design that you are interested in, or if it is food and nutrition that you are interested in we’ve got another section on that, we’ve got a section on younger person’s, people who are diagnosed with dementia but they are quite young, they are under sixty five, we’ve got a section on palliative care. All different aspects, but it just means that people who are coming along, because we have a wide scope of people who will be there on the day, people will be there for a personal reason, people who will be there more from an academic background, people who will be there literally just practice perspective, because there are so many people coming along, they can pick two of those parallel sessions on the day. Just to really try and tailor the programme to what they, you know, what is there interest, what’s most relevant to them in their profession. So, that will be going on and then as well as that we have got a massive exhibit area of over fifty exhibitors that will be going on throughout the day, we’ve got a lot of time within the three breaks, and we have got forty minutes and the biggest break is an hour and fifteen minutes, just for people to have some time to get into that space, catch up with colleagues, go and speak to some of these people and get some creative ideas, get some innovation about some of the more recent developments that are happening and it’s just, there is so much hustle and bustle on the day, and as I say, it’s just a really good day to get together with everyone and, just to do a little bit of a plug, we do have early bird rates at the minute. That’s till the fourteenth April so if anyone is interested then get to our website and get online and get you early bird rate while it’s there and snap it up, because it’s a fantastic day and one thing that everyone comes out with, as well as the programme being really engaging, it’s having that time and that space just to be able to stop in your daily workload and just have five minutes to just have that creative space and catch up with people and get chatting. So many people have met up and had an idea and then they have come away from the conference, they have swapped contact details, gotten in touch afterwards and some of the projects that have come out of that day have been fantastic.
There are also the awards, they are taking place, they are actually open at the moment, it’s the Scottish Dementia Awards and it’s a partnership between ourselves, SSSC, NES, NHS Education for Scotland and NHS Health Scotland. So, there are four partners involved in that. It’s open at the moment until 31st March for entries to come in and we have the award ceremony on twenty first of September. So, it’s a slightly longer process but it’s just because in the middle we do all the judging and if people do make it through to the next step, if they become a finalist, we normally have eighteen finalists that go through, there is then a little bit more work for those finalists to do just to get ready for the awards ceremony where we announce who the winners will be on the day, along with our Lifetime Achievement Award. So, there are six categories, Best Acute Care Innovation, Best Innovation in Continuing Care, Best Community Support Initiative, Best Dementia Friendly Community Initiative, Best Educational Initiative and Most Innovative Partnership. We welcome entries from all across Scotland, whether you are up in the Highlands or down in the Borders, and what we would just say is that the awards are there just to recognise what people can do when they work together in partnership, what they can do when they work together meaningfully and it shows how we are translating policy into practice and how we are putting things into place that really help to improve and support people with dementia and support their families and just improve their lives, both in consultation with them, but yeh, it’s just a really nice day to stop and celebrate some of the more creative and innovative things that are coming up from the grass roots, that just need to be commended. It’s open to everyone and if you go onto, although it’s a partnership, if you go onto Alzheimer’s Scotland website all the details are there about who can enter, who can’t enter, lots of details about each of the categories, you get a bit of guidance about which one is best for you to go in for. It’s not laborious either, I think sometimes with these award ceremonies you think, oh goodness, it’s a massive big application form, it’s short and sweet it’s only five hundred words and that’s you done and dusted. So, I think it’s definitely worthwhile just to stop and take five minutes, it doesn’t have to be anything major, it could be something really simple, really minor, it’s just something that improves people with dementia’s lives and just put it in and see how you get on. Everyone always says to us, a lot of the winners that get through think, oh gosh, I would never have thought I would have gotten through. So, it probably takes about half an hour to fill out the form so just stop, put it in and just see where you go with it. It’s a great way, as well, at the end of it, just to see who the others are who have entered as well just to even share some of those ideas that have come through, so in a way, although we do have winners, everyone is a winner because it’s a really good way to share practice, so yeh, that’s one at the minute and it’s open till thirty first of March.
MD Ok, good.
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