In 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.
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Toby Williamson works for the UK Mental Health Foundation in the role of Head of Development & Later Life, and is extensively published particularly around the subjects of Values and Mental Capacity. Here he talks about what we mean by ‘values’ in mental health practice, borrowing a phrase from Professor Bill Fulford who describes them as ‘action guiding words’.
He explores the importance of values diversity, reflected particularly in the expectations of how we set up multidisciplinary teams. Toby draws on examples from his previous role managing Impact, an assertive outreach team developed in the voluntary sector services run by Mind in Hammersmith & Fulham (west London).
Toby and Steve also reflect on the conflict between person-centred values upheld by the majority of public service practitioners, and the commercial values slowly creeping into UK public services in recent years.
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