Our latest guest blog is the third of four from our Haelo Intern, Sarah Alvi. The third blog post explores the work Sarah has been undertaking since joining Haelo.
We’ll hear more from Sarah soon, as we post her final blog before the end of her internship here at Haelo.
Following my previous blog post about what my experience of Haelo has been so far I thought it might be interesting to hear about what I have been doing on the ‘dementia project’ since joining Haelo.
So… what is the ‘dementia project’? The ‘Dementia Project’, or as it’s officially known, ‘Dementia United’ is a new transformation programme with the aim of making Greater Manchester (GM) the ‘the best place to live with dementia’ – to make GM more dementia friendly and to reduce variation across GM for those who live with dementia.
So, where did this initiative come from? The project is being developed as a result of Greater Manchester Devolution. When I first became a part of the project I had no idea what this meant, or its relevance for ‘my project’. For those of you that don’t know, devolution involves the government bequeathing certain powers and responsibilities to a particular geographical region. The aim is to enable local decision makers to properly meet the needs of the people in their region. GM has been given new powers which mean that the local leaders take control of all the health and social care services for local people and decide how the £6billion currently spent on hospitals, G.P. services and health and social care should be spent!
Dementia United is one of the many initiatives of GM Devolution with a bold and very important aim which involved us rethinking the way a person living with Dementia is cared for here in Manchester. Dementia United (DU) is being hosted in Salford by Haelo, with partners including the Alzheimer’s Society as well as others from across the city; such as the National Clinical Lead for Dementia, commissioners and representatives from Mental Health Trusts and Adult Social Care Trusts.
Once I got on top of all the terminology and what the project actually was and how it fit into the big picture, I settled into work quite quickly – it’s a very ‘all hands on deck’ project, as Stuart Clough, Programme Manager at Haelo, says, it is busy, and it is intense, and I’m enjoying being another set of hands on a very busy deck.
More recently on Dementia United, I have been working a lot on assistive technology, finding out what’s on the market both nationally and locally, how the technologies work and how they can be used to support people living with Dementia with a variety of needs.
This work aligns itself with one of the aims of Dementia United to adopt technology which can work towards keeping people living with dementia and their carers independent for longer whilst also allowing them to manage their own symptoms, keeping them out of hospital. In addition we can, as a result, point people in the right direction to find suitable technologies based on their requirements who may not have originally known about the technology available.
Finding out about assistive technologies ties into one of my larger pieces of work; finding out exactly what services are available for people living with Dementia and for their carers in each of the ten localities.
For example; if I lived in Bolton, where could I go to seek information and advice on being a carer, or where do I go to take the person for whom I care to have fun and socialise? Are there activities in my local area which have an element of the past to help them remember and feel comfortable? Are there dementia friendly cafés?
My aim is to understand the available services and hopefully, map the results onto a live, digital map so that any individual could select a local area and see what support is available, and hopefully, find out about other, accessible facilities.
Mapping the services already available in each of the local authorities feeds into the aspiration of providing a Key Worker, which will seek to provide a point of contact for people diagnosed with dementia and enables us to think about harnessing what’s already available and make a connection between these services and DU – furthermore ensuring we avoid replicating services that already exist.
So, this work has given me plenty of opportunities to work with people involved in the project from all over the country. I’m frequently in contact with the members of Alzheimer’s Society and other members of our DU team in Social Finance – each person with their own area of expertise. I attended an event earlier in the year called ‘Digital Salford’ at The Landing, MediaCityUK in which, people from multiple disciplines made further vital connections with academics from Salford University, members of Salford City Council, representatives of housing and the Fire Service and many, many more people. This has been a real privilege and it certainly helps with finding out about services available from my perspective but also means forming new connections which is pivotal for DU.
There is an upcoming event for the DU team: a second locality meeting with the locality Dementia leads in GM at Trafford Town Hall. We are really looking forward to seeing how each area currently cares for people living with Dementia, how think they can improve this, and to see if they’ve begun to put any things in place since our last meeting. I’ll keep you updated with this and all the other things going on in this project, so watch this space!
If you have any questions or comments on either Dementia United or Haelo Internships please feel free to drop the team an email!