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Community and Dementia: Creating Better Lives in Forth Valley

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On Thursday 27th May 2021, the Life Changes Trust held on online conference: ‘Community and Dementia: Creating Better Lives in Forth Valley’.

This was the tenth in our ‘Creating Better Lives’ series of conferences, which are held across the country. 

The webinar had two exceptional chairs – Karys Rutherford and May Wright.  May’s husband had dementia and she was his carer.  She is also the oldest volunteer with Dementia Friendly Dunblane. Karys is currently a student, but became the primary carer to her grandmother for a number of years between leaving school and starting university. She still cares for her grandmother on weekends. We are very grateful to both of them.

They were joined in chairing duties by Kainde Manji, from About Dementia, who took us though our Q&A panel session. 

To deliver this conference, the Trust worked in partnership with individuals and organisations from across Forth Valley to design an event that reflected on and celebrated what was happening locally to support people living with dementia and their families. By doing this, the Trust learned from them about what the local priorities are for these areas specifically. 

For instance, where are the gaps in services and provision, what have been the struggles during the COVID pandemic and what has worked well, and what people living in Forth Valle say is most important to them?

Like all of our regional ‘Creating Better Lives’ conferences, this event was designed to help support local areas – and all of us – to think more deeply about how communities can uphold the human rights of people with dementia and unpaid carers. 

At this conference, we heard:

  • How ‘storytelling’ works to support people living with dementia and unpaid carers have their voices and reflections heard – what matters to them in their journey with dementia
  • What people say are THEIR priorities in their own communities. These priorities emerged through a number of ‘storytelling’ sessions that the Trust ran in the lead up to the conference
  • Local projects and individuals from across Forth Valley highlighting the work they continue to deliver and the support they continue to provide during COVID 19. 

The learning from our storytelling sessions are written into a report and distilled into common themes. These themes shape some of the discussion at the final conferences.

You can download the Forth Valley Storytelling Report here

Highlights from the webinar included hearing from Alzheimer Scotland in Alloa. They, and their amazing band of volunteers, came together to raise £100,000 to get a new dementia resource centre up and running, so that they could support even more people living with dementia and unpaid carers. Justine Nicolson and Donna Paterson from Alzheimer Scotland, and volunteer Caroline Crawford spoke about how they went about raising such a huge sum of money, and the services they provide.

We also heard from ‘Our Connected Neighbourhoods’, which is a partnership of 14 organisations in Stirling. They worked together to make Stirling town centre – and the wider area – dementia friendly and inclusive. This means good access to buildings, proper and readable signage, safe pavements, having lots of places to sit... and the project was co-led by people living with dementia themselves. Contributors included Richard Ward, Martin Quirk, Kevin Harrison, Margaret Innes and Keir Stevenson.

And we heard from Dementia Friendly Dunblane. Before COVID, the project supported individuals living with dementia and their carers with a memory café, a singing group and a lunch club among other things.  Since lockdown, like so many others, they have had to adapt their support services.  Breda Seaman, the co-ordinator for Dementia Friendly Dunblane spoke more about this and some unpaid carers reflected on their experiences looking after their loved ones. We also learned how local children have also played a big part in helping to keep support going.

There was also a Q&A session with a local panel: Nicola Wood (Interim Lead Nurse for Care Homes, NHS Forth Valley), Daniel Lafferty (Strategy & Engagement Officer, Town Break Stirling), Paul Barrowman, (SDS Client Liaison Officer, Self-Directed Support Forth Valley), and Natalie Masterton (CEO, Stirling Voluntary Enterprise). Karys and May also joined the panel to give their perspective as unpaid carers.

After the conference, the Life Changes Trust put together a summary/evaluation report which includes a brief summary of the event, the identified local priorities, discussion points during the Q&A sessions about the local priorities and how local projects are being supported to deliver, and the key messages that people felt were important to influence change going forward.

You can download the 'Creating Better Lives in Forth Valley' Summary & Evaluation Report here

You can watch a recording of our full webinar, or you can just watch some of the presentations, below, whatever works for you.  

Watch a recording of the full webinar below

You can watch Arlene Crockett from the Life Changes Trust, presenting on what people in Forth Valley said were THEIR priorities in their own communities, below.

You can watch Justine, Donna and Caroline from Alzheimer Scotland, below

You can watch Our Connected Neighbourhoods presentation, below

You can watch Dementia Friendly Dunblane's presentation, below

You can watch the Q&A session, below

Arlene Crockett from the Life Changes Trust talked about the Trust’s small grants programme in Forth Valley and next steps for creating better lives.  Watch it below

The Life Changes Trust would like to thank May Wright, Karys Rutherford, Kainde Manji, Justine Nicolson and Donna Paterson, Richard Ward, Martin Quirk, Kevin Harrison, Margaret Innes and Keir Stevenson, Breda Seaman, Gillian Rutherford, Veryan Farr, Sally Weeks and Claire Watts.  We would also like to thank our panel Nicola Wood, Daniel Lafferty, Paul Barrowman, and Natalie Masterton.