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Community and Dementia: Creating Better Lives in Tayside

apple and pearOn Thursday 1st April 2021, the Life Changes Trust held on online conference: ‘Community and Dementia: Creating Better Lives in Tayside’.

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

The conference had two exceptional co-chairs: Robert Hamilton was a sales manager before he retired, and was diagnosed with early onset dementia eighteen months ago.  He is at present a Worship Leader in the Scottish Episcopal Church and a board member of Kirrie Connections; and George Grindlay, whose experience is as an unpaid carer for his wife, Chris, who was diagnosed with early signs of dementia around three years ago.

They were joined in chairing duties by Heather Edwards from the Care Inspectorate, who took us though our Q&A panel session. Heather’s portfolio includes dementia care.

To deliver this online conference, the Life Changes Trust worked in partnership with individuals and organisations from across Tayside 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 what was important in their local area.

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 Tayside 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 unpaid carers of people with dementia and those who support people with dementia and unpaid carers in Tayside 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 Tayside 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 to common themes. These themes shape some of the discussion at the final conferences, so that the priorities of people with dementia and unpaid carers drive conversations and considerations on the day.

*The Tayside storytelling sessions for people with dementia but did not take place until after the event. The priorities have now been updated to reflect this.

You can download the Tayside Storytelling Report here

Highlights from the webinar included hearing about the ‘Meeting Centres’ approach to dementia, where local, person centred support is provided in a community hub. Dr Shirley Evans from Worcester University explained about Meeting Centres in general, and Graham Galloway from Kirrie Connections, talked about their amazing Meeting Centre in Kirriemuir in Angus, which is the first in Scotland.

We also heard from Shelagh Pilgrim, who is a Support Worker with Perth & Kinross Association of Voluntary Services, and Tracey Chisholm, from the New Rannoch Day Centre in Perth.  They talked about how THEY have been delivering services to support people with dementia and unpaid carers during the challenges of COVID, and how they’ve adapted to outreach work and virtual delivery.

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 Tayside' Summary and 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 here, including an in-depth Q&A session with our panel. The time code for the Q&A session is 57.58


We started the webinar with the short film, ‘Reframing Dementia’ featuring the Kirriemuir Hub Camera Club, as seen through the eyes of Christina Grindlay and Scott Lyon, both of whom have a diagnosis of dementia. You can watch this, below


You can watch Shona Cowie, from the Village Storytelling Centre, presenting on what people in Tayside said were THEIR priorities in their own communities, below


You can watch Dr Shirley Evans and Graham Galloway talk about Meeting Centres, below


You can watch Shelagh Pilgrim and Tracey Chisholm talk about how they have continued to deliver services in Perth and Kinross, below


Arlene Crockett from the Life Changes Trust talked about the Trust’s small grants programme in Tayside, and chatted to Kate Robertson from Outside the Box, about what they did with their award. Watch it below


The Life Changes Trust would like to thank George Grindlay, Robert Hamilton, Heather Edwards, Shona Cowie, Graham Galloway and all at the Kirriemuir Hub, Dr Shirley Evans, Shelagh Pilgrim, Tracey Chisholm, Kate Robertson, Kieran Drugan, Allison Lee, Emma Jane Wells and Shona Thomson.