Tag Archives: dementia

Positive Risk-Taking & Dementia-Friendly Communities

JRF screenshotThe increasing incidence of dementia, and profile it is gaining in the public imagination, means that this is a condition that none of us can ignore. What role might a strengths approach have to play in the way we view people living with dementia? It is all too easy to see the negatives and deficits around someone living with dementia, and to remain oblivious to their capabilities and potential, as well as the supportive resources they have around them. Just because you have a particular label doesn’t mean you have lost all capacity to dream and desire a reasonable quality of life for yourself, as determined by you, not imposed on you by others. However, the so-called ‘community’ can become a progressively challenging place as cognitive capabilities decline.

‘Positive risk-taking’ is a concept well established by the Practice Based Evidence consultancy, and it applies equally to the risks a person living with dementia may wish to take, and to all of us who live in, work in and develop communities. The Joseph Rowntree Foundation commissioned a piece of work from a collaboration of Practice Based Evidence and the Mental Health Foundation to investigate how the concept of positive risk-taking may apply to the government initiative of developing dementia-friendly communities. The think piece is explored in the published ‘Viewpoint’ at the following link:

http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/how-can-positive-risk-taking-help-build-dementia-friendly-communities

“Those with dementia are still people and they still have stories and they still have character and they’re all individuals and they’re all unique. And they just need to be interacted with on a human level.” [Carey Mulligan].

Check out ‘Still Alice’ as a great portrayal of the tragic descent into dementia, and the impact on a wider family as well as the person living with the condition.

 

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Podcast Episode 045: A Place for Carers

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2In this episode the focus is on informal unpaid carers in the health and social care system. Who carers are, and the roles they perform, are honoured as amazing strengths that can be relied upon. However, the role comes with burdens and pressures, and services have not been so quick to see carers as a priority for the vital support they need.

The focus for this episode was triggered through reading an article by Nicci Gerrard in the Observer newspaper (UK Sunday broadsheet). She was reflecting on her father’s experiences of dementia, and more specifically on the damaging effect of a hospital admission on his ability to function independently. It is not a way of blaming staff or the service, but more a reality check on how the demands of an ageing population are overloading the existing service.

John’s Campaign has been established to promote greater access for carers on to hospital wards, particularly to continue supporting their loved ones who have succumbed to dementia. The costs are very minimal and the benefits for patients, carers and staff are very significant. Good practice in this issue exists in small pockets, but the challenge of the campaign is for best practice to become standard practice everywhere.

To access the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/045-a-place-for-carers/id867043694?i=334927346&mt=2

“To care for those who once cared for us is one of the highest honors.” [Tia Walker].

“I am sickened that the government thinks my value is so low when actually carers save the government billions.” [Anonymous carer survey response].

Dementia and Positive Risk-Taking

JRF screenshotSteve Morgan (Practice Based Evidence) and Toby Williamson (Mental Health Foundation) were commissioned by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation to produce a ‘Viewpoint’ think piece for their published series of thought-provoking topics. The focus was to apply the concept of ‘Positive Risk-Taking’ (developed from 1994 by Steve Morgan) to the relatively new UK government initiative of ‘Dementia-friendly Communities’.

Check out the following link for the full publication, which sets out an explanation of ‘Positive Risk-Taking’, ‘Dementia-Friendly Communities’, and the benefit of taking risks to support people to live with dementia better:

http://www.jrf.org.uk/publications/how-can-positive-risk-taking-help-build-dementia-friendly-communities

 

Podcast Episode 031: Say hi to Dave

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2Dave is a reported case example (not interview) of someone advancing in age and who is not only coming to terms with complex health problems, but is also adamant about exerting his own views of what a plan for his life should look like when in contact with health care professionals.

Dave has recently lost his wife in a road traffic accident, and his children are concerned about his care needs as he is now diagnosed with Alzheimers disease. Dave puts his strengths to work, using skills he has developed over many years as a financial advisor, as well as his passion for reading up about his condition and the way services should work for him, not making him fit into a standard bureaucratic process. He challenges his local services to be genuinely person-centred and flexible in the way they meet with him, listen to him, and document his wishes. He also makes it very clear that he will not become a token gesture to service user involvement by refusing an invitation to join a local strategic committee.

To access the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/031-say-hi-to-dave/id867043694?i=321218937&mt=2

“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” [Gabriel Garcia Marquez].

Podcast Episode 030: Age of experience

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2One of the main challenges of the widely recognised ageing population is how we tap into the deep well of resources in older people, as well as identifying more resources in order to support older people with specific needs.

This episode will explore the idea of ‘care capital’ from the perspective of contributing through voluntary work. An emphais is placed on the baby boomer generation, with a wealth of skills and talents alongside a desire to contribute something back into society.

What do others gain from our charitable contributions? The flip side of that coin is that we also gain enormously from making contributions of time and effort; not least the protective factors that come from structured physical and psychological activity. There are a multitude of opportunities in local communities, but our more flexible way of thinking about work should also be reflected in more flexible ways in which we may be able to shape our voluntary contributions, so that we tap into the strengths of the many. A good neighbour befriending scheme is identified as one personal example.

For the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/030-age-of-experience/id867043694?i=320358977&mt=2

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” [Mark Twain].

Podcast Episode 029: Toby Williamson Interview Part 2

TheStrengthsRevolution_albumart_2-2In conversation with Toby Williamson regarding his role in the Mental Health Foundation focused on Later Life. Services for older people are traditionally looked on negatively, particularly dementia.

In this episode Toby reflects on the positives of how we are living longer, and the majority of people, even those ‘living with dementia’, are experiencing a good quality of life. Mental health problems are not a necessary companion of growing older, and even the comparative cognitive decline can be adapted to. We can develop more of our own protective factors by planning more for an active retirement.

Two-thirds of people living with dementia do so in their own homes, and the Dementia Friendly Communities and Age Friendly Cities initiatives are two of the many positive developments contributing to the better wellbeing of older people. The challenge for service providers is to attract more excellent practitioners to see the exciting challenges and opportunities offered by working in these services. The lack of cure or effective medical treatments opens the door to a range of other exciting therapeutic opportunities for supporting people and their informal carers. Finally, we should also do more to tap into the ‘care capital’ potential of baby boomers retiring with experience and a commitment to contribute back to society.

For the full content of this episode click on the links to iTunes and Sound Cloud (or go to Stitcher Radio):

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/strengths-revolution-steve/id867043694

https://itunes.apple.com/gb/podcast/029-toby-williamson-interview/id867043694?i=320199331&mt=2