It is a rainy, wet Monday morning, and the Dementia Project team are on their way to Chesterfield. It is our favourite time of the month as a team, and the happy chatter of our weekends is drowning out the rain.
We often reflect on the journey we have taken as a team. The Dementia Project has a steering group that meet three times a year to evaluate the success of the project. We knew that we couldn’t do what we do well, if we didn’t involve the people we support in this process. Nicola Payne put together a video at the start of the project, in search for a steering group that involves the people supported by MacIntyre.
This was the start of something amazing, we just didn’t know it yet.
Our first meeting took place on a sunny Monday in May. We drove up to Chesterfield, and arrived nearly an hour early, with excitement and anticipation running through our veins about what the day would hold. We were greeted by seven people who were also quite unsure of exactly what would happen that day. There was a quiet to the room; a shyness, the unknown. Fast forward one year on, and we have many fantastic achievements to celebrate as a group.
We are a team. We are one. We are the Keep Going……. Don’t Stop! group.
The confidence of the team is their greatest achievement. The silence is now beginning to fill with voice, opinion and laughter. Staff who have known the seven people comment proudly that they are different people to the people they were last year.
The group are also very proud of the Easy Read documentation that they are producing and creating to support the project. When we feel that a health topic needs a clearer explanation, ideas are thought of and shared within the group. We then begin to develop an Easy Read resource, this can take time but we feel it’s important to involve everyone and work at a pace that captures everybody’s thoughts and abilities. There is plenty of teamwork that goes on throughout each meeting and the group support each other. The end result will always be a co-produced piece of work that has involved everyone and will benefit the rest of MacIntyre. Easy Read documentation created so far ranges from topics such as ‘Attending Health Appointments’ to knowing what a ‘A Good Doctor’ is; there is always a health focus and each meeting is very structured. We follow an agenda so we can all keep on track and the work we want to achieve is completed in the time frame we have.
Responsibilities are given to everyone throughout the day for example: signing in sheet filled out to be completed by all, the kitchen kept tidy and handouts given out. As time goes on and the more confident the group becomes the aim is for the group to run as independently as possible with just minimal facilitation.
The Dementia Project, like the rest of MacIntyre, are passionate about involving everyone in what we do, and we wouldn’t be able to do what we do best without involving the people we support. They are why we are all here. They are the reason we are all united to do the best that we can, and for the Dementia Project team, they are the reason that we keep going and don’t stop!
Specialist Health Advisor and Dementia Project Manager