Case Study: Dementia Friendly Project for Age UK Completed
This year Dementia Adventure successfully completed an 18-month consultancy and training programme helping national charity Age UK to become inclusive and dementia-friendly throughout their services.
The programme followed the positive work Dementia Adventure completed with Age UK London as part of their Fit as a Fiddle programme (2008-2012). Age UK had been awarded funding from the Big Lottery Well-being Fund, a £165 million England-wide programme to support the development of healthier lifestyles and to improve well-being. The objective of the programme was to provide support and training to nearly 70 local Age UK's who wished to develop their services to be more dementia-friendly.
The dementia-friendly programme had five key aims to:
- Support local Age UK's to review ways in which their services could be more inclusive of people living with dementia.
- Enable more local Age UK's to become dementia-friendly organisations.
- Develop the concept of dementia friendliness and then transferring this into mainstream well-being services.
- Enhance the quality of life for people with dementia and their carers.
- Raise the profile of local Age UK partners as service providers for people living with dementia.
Dementia Adventure, in partnership with Innovations in Dementia, was invited to consult and deliver training to facilitate the programme to scores of local Age UK partners across the UK. Dementia Adventure helped to create a framework for becoming more dementia-friendly through the development of locally specific action plans. The plans focussed on training staff and volunteers, making changes to buildings, signage and printed materials and developing new dementia-friendly physical activities or well-being services.
Initially Dementia Adventure worked with Innovations in Dementia to audit how dementia-friendly local Age UK services were. The work then progressed so that each local Age UK partner spent one day with a consultant from each organisation. Following this and in order to facilitate locally specific training, the Age UK partners were invited to choose which consultant organisation to spend a third support day with.
As this was a developmental project Dementia Adventure was able to assess and improve their offering as the programme became established. They were flexible with the project plan and developed the project to concentrate on their strengths in developing and creating services which included physical activities, especially outdoors. As part of this work Dementia Adventure Director Neil Mapes and Project Leader Kath Pyke designed and developed the 'physical activity and well-being support programme'.
In addition to the consultancy, all local Age UKs involved were invited to attend four workshops. Three of them - 'How to engage people with dementia', 'A review of dementia training programmes' and 'How to audit home and office environments for people with dementia' - were led by Innovations in Dementia with the fourth - 'Risky Business'(giving training organisations a more balanced approach to risk benefit assessments) - being delivered by Dementia Adventure at RHS Hyde Hall in Essex.
Outcomes and legacy
The Age UK Dementia Friendly programme achieved the goals set out in the bid to the Big Lottery Fund and met most of the expectations of participating local Age UK partners. In a pleasing development to the project some local Age UKs obtained extra funding for Dementia Adventure to deliver bespoke training. This training included 'Risky Business' and Walk Leader Training (enabling delegates to plan, deliver and evaluate a range of dementia-friendly activities in green spaces and other environments such as the home setting).
Local Age UK partners have since communicated being 'inspired' by Dementia Adventure's training on physical activity and the outdoors, and as a result significant legacy work has been developed across the UK. There are many local partners now hosting weekly park walks in places such as North and South Lincolnshire, Horsham, South Staffordshire and Birmingham. Outdoor activities are being pioneered such as trips to the seaside, visits to stately homes, garden treasure hunts, picking fruit and vegetable for meals, gardening and in Horsham the local Age UK there took 15 people, some of whom were living with dementia, on a holiday to the Isle of Wight. These activities are a direct result of Dementia Adventure's training and support as part of in the Age UK Dementia Friendly programme.
The feedback from Local Age UKs has been very positive. In the registered feedback the partners have linked the successful outcomes of the consultancy support to the personalities of the consultants from Dementia Adventure and Innovations in Dementia, who were described as 'approachable', 'enthusiastic', 'inspirational' and as having 'the ability to go above and beyond what was required to motivate staff and volunteers and thus influence change within their local Age UKs.' Each partner reported that they had learned or applied something new as a result of the support.
Dementia Adventure valued the opportunity to work with Age UK, both locally and nationally and to facilitate the emphasis of people living with dementia being included in their services. It has also improved the lives of more people living with dementia by enabling them to get outdoors and connect with nature. Overall the work of Dementia Adventure in this programme has proven a great success - contributing to a more positive, inclusive attitude towards Age UK individuals living with dementia and the legacy of this work continues across the UK.
An independent evaluation of the Age UK Dementia Friendly Programme, written by CIRCLE at the University of Leeds, can be found here. You can also access the Age UK 'How to' and 'Resources' Guides by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org