Community and Dementia: Creating Better Lives Regional Events and Grants
On 1 May 2018 the Life Changes Trust held a conference in Perth to explore the subject of Human Rights, Citizenship and Dementia. This marked the beginning of a three year tour to cover every health board area in Scotland, with the purpose of bringing together communities for shared learning, identifying the priorities of people living with dementia and unpaid carers in that area, and consideration of what could be done to better address those priorities. We called these collaborative learning conferences 'Community and Dementia: Creating Better Lives'. We continued to run these conferences until late 2021, with a transition to online events in August 2020, due to COVID-19.
Regional Grants Programme
The Trust recognises that very often it is local, grassroots organisations which, by their very nature of being local, have the most immediate impact on people living with dementia, their families and unpaid carers. By ‘local projects’ we mean projects run in a local area by people who live or work in that local area.
Therefore, after each Creating Better Lives conference, we opened up a small grants programme to which local organisations could apply to deliver work which would support people affected by dementia in their area. A local organisation/individual was then appointed to oversee and support the collaborative working and shared learning of the small grants recipients.
Our regional events were planned and delivered in partnership with local organisations, local people who are living with dementia and unpaid carers. Discussions with local partners before and after the conferences brought together people with a common aim: to effect positive change for people affected by dementia.
We did this in order to give those who have direct experience of dementia a meaningful voice in how they want to receive support locally.
Before the pandemic, activities include storytelling sessions for people with dementia, for unpaid carers and also for professionals, dementia inclusive social events that brought together communities to enjoy each other’s company and we finished with a full conference. With COVID, were unable to host social events, but our conferences were still very well attended online and we continued to run storytelling sessions. All of our online webinars were recorded and are available to watch, below.
On the2nd December, we hosted our final Creating Better Lives National Learning Event, the culmination of our series of regional events. The purpose of this event was to celebrate – and reflect on – this three-year journey, and to share some of the learning and evidence that has been collected along the way.
Storytelling and priorities
Prior to each of our conferences, we worked with the Village Storytelling Centre, using their well-developed skills. Storytellers use innovative yet comfortable approaches that draw out the experiences, views and aspirations of people with dementia and unpaid carers, to allow them to have their voices heard. We listened very carefully to what people living with dementia and those who care for them, as well as frontline professionals, said. We learned about what was important to them, where there were gaps in providing a caring and supportive community and how services could be better designed and delivered, putting the voice of people living with dementia and carers up front and centre.
From these discussions, we compiled a list of local priorities. Once we had completed our regional events, using the common themes that had emerged, we compiled a set of National Priorities.
You can read about them on the Evidence and Learning page link above.
At the conferences, we heard from local projects on how they were working with people who live with dementia and their carers to create better lives and better communities. There were also discussions or Q&A sessions where the identified priorities were discussed and possible solutions/next steps suggested. This information will be crucial to our influencing work around dementia, both locally and nationally, and that of the Trust's Legacy Partners.
Our first event was in Inverness in November 2018, with a second in Grampian in March 2019. Our third event was in Orkney in May 2019, then we went to the Western Isles in September 2019 and in November 2019, we visited Ayrshire & Arran. Our sixth 'Creating Better Lives' conference was our first to be held online, on the 26th November 2020, and it was for Edinburgh and the Lothians. On the 25th February, we held our Fife conference, and on the 1st April, our eighth conference was for the Tayside area. In May, we held both our Lanarkshire and Forth Valley conferences, and in July we held our Borders conference. In August, we focussed on Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and we have put together short recorded packages for Dumfries and Galloway and Shetland. You can watch the webinars and read more about our Evidence and Learning for each area, below.