So how many of you nodded in sympathy when reading that? While we can joke about ageing it is a reality that we will all need support with things that perhaps we haven’t always but that doesn’t change who we are – or does it?
Back in February 2011 I sent out a general invitation for anyone interested to come along to a workshop focussed on supporting people with learning disabilities who had or were at risk of having Dementia. The response was overwhelming, there were over 50 people who signed up and 30 managed to come along to what turned out to be the first meeting of MacIntyre’s “Dementia Special Interest Group”.
What came across loud and clear at that first meeting was that no matter how skilled and experienced an individual member of staff is when they are confronted with the possibility that a person they support may have dementia that can knock their confidence, create all sorts of self-doubt and generate feelings of isolation. It was also clear that this is a condition which is no respecter of service type or model – staff came along from Registered Care and Nursing Homes, Lifelong Learning and Outreach Services and Supported Living Projects. All with the same desire – to find out more and to explore how they could provide the best possible support.
The Dementia Special Interest Group has tried over the last 3 years to make sure no one feels alone when faced with these new challenges. We have continued to meet and share success stories, talk about the daily challenges and offer each other ideas and suggestions. This proved so useful it led to the creation of our Top Tips booklet – which is on our website for anyone to download http://www.macintyrecharity.org/media/resources/Dementia_Hot_Tips_-_MacIntyre.pdf . We gathered together the invaluable experiences of the group – the amazing creativity of front line staff who had reflected and tried new and different ways to support people to maintain skills and overcome barriers.
We have also set up a group email which is used to share information about events or publications. People have asked for advice from group members and given feedback on training they have attended. In addition we have set up a NoticeBoard on My MacIntyre (our internal staff learning and development platform) which is constantly updated with new links, publications and of course resources that the group has created.
We have had visitors come along to the group –to talk about their work or to ask us to get involved, we’ve had trainers come and give taster demonstrations, and at the moment we are working with an external consultant sharing what we know about good support and learning from her knowledge and experience.
The membership of the group has changed over time as understanding and supporting someone with dementia has become more or less relevant in a particular service, but what has not changed is the need for a forum where people can share ideas, find support and above all not feel isolated. It is clear to me that MacIntyre has a lot to offer to the wider health and social care sector – Great Interactions is the best foundation from which to start building good dementia care. I never cease to be amazed by the creativity, commitment and can do attitude of this group.
Director – Adult Services