Last week, Project Onwards were pleased to attend the Dementia Friendly East Lothian Gathering held at the Maitlandfield House Hotel in Haddington. The event created lots of meaningful conversations around living well with dementia, both for the individual with a diagnosis and their wider care network. We completely respect the confidentiality of the conversations held during this Gathering, so we are simply sharing our reflections from the two days.
It was very powerful for us to hear directly from people with dementia and those involved in their care about their personal experiences. The phrase “nothing about us without us” was mentioned a few times over the two days. It reflects the importance of directly involving people with dementia when designing or making decisions about any products, services, or policies which will affect them. It reinforced our core ambition of designing Project Onwards alongside people with dementia.
Travel challenges, and the difficulty of stopping driving, were frequently mentioned. We were reminded that changing how we travel can be a very challenging transition and that there is a real need to ensure people with dementia can continue to get out and about after being diagnoses. Project Onwards looks specifically at this transition and the event clearly showed that Onwards could have a positive impact during this difficult time.
For use over the two days, the organisers had provided bright yellow cards that read ‘I would like to talk please’. These cards made it easier for organisers to know when someone wanted to contribute to the discussion and helped ensure that everyone was heard. These cards are such a simple idea that helped everyone’s thoughts be heard by the group. We will ask individuals and groups if they wish to use this technique as Project Onwards continues to progress.