Commissioning for Dementia Care – Getting it Right

Whose Shoes? A catalyst for change in health and social care

First of all, huge thanks to Ken Howard! How good is this?!

This amazing picture was created by Ken Howard, who is living with dementia. We are working together to blast dementia stereotypes out of the water!
This amazing picture was created by Ken Howard, who is living with dementia.
We are working together to blast dementia stereotypes out of the water!

Dementia Skills Network was launched by Skills for Health in November, 2013 as part of the ‘My Health Skills’ initiative. It now has nearly 100 members networking and sharing good practice around dementia care. A good start but with lots of scope to grow and blossom. So we ran a Whose Shoes?®, workshop last week to help it along a bit!

So, how did it all come about?

Dementia Roundtable
Dementia Round Table

As part of the launch of Dementia Skills, I was very honoured to be invited to take part in a ‘Round table’ discussion in London, with a lovely mixed group of people, united by our passion to improve the quality of life of people…

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The last time I used WordPress Margaret and I, (Margaret is my Mum in law) had just been to buy her an IPad. We signed her up for Twitter, she already had a FaceBook account, and as she is a very keen writer we created a wordpress account so she could write a blog.

That was a few months ago now, she now has a matching IPhone and publishes something on wordpress almost everyday, I think she now spends more time on social media than most teenagers, which is great, she enjoys it. She has had people comment on her writing and is building a group of followers who encourage her to do more. I should not be surprised, she decided in her early 70’s to study for degree in English, for no other reason than she wanted to, we are very proud of her!

So I feel at little hopeless really, this, if I decide to post it, will be my third in nearly as many years. I struggle to know what to write and I worry terribly about my lack of writing ability, At School I was always much better at Maths and Physics. Funny that, its now my grasp of English Language that I need most in my work. I see my old English Teacher every couple of weeks, he is getting on a bit now and comes into the Age UK Centre where I work, he is lovely man although I am not sure I appreciated that when I was at school. I loved his lessons because he always gave us interesting books to read, I hated getting my homework back though, covered in comments written in red ink. I cannot spell for the life of me and I have just realised the spell checker on this is American English so there is really no hope….. 

However I am going to claim Margaret’s new found hobby as a success, my aim was to encourage older people (I use the word older with caution here) to try out social media. There you go, one 75yr old digitally hooked up to anything she wants and having fun in the process. I may get a tweet in while explaining my grammatical errors though……………



Cold Saturday afternoons

It’s freezing this afternoon, black clouds threatening rain and the extra jumper I put on is not really making a difference. I have been to see my Mother-in-law, Margaret this afternoon, she is in her early seventies and sadly now widowed. I went with the intention of setting her up on Twitter and Word Press, she loves technology, social media and is also pretty good at writing. My work is with older people and presently we are looking at how we can use social media or how we can encourage older people to use it. So it occurred to me that I should at least have my Mother-in-law up to speed.

It turned out even better, for a while she has thought about getting an iPad and today we went and purchased one, along with a key board attachment – she has arthritis in her fingers and prefers a key board to touch screen. She is now signed up to everything. Hopefully she will publish some of her short stories on her blog page – where she can share them with her friends and anyone else who cares to read them.

This has prompted me to actually use my blog, I used it once a couple of years ago, but since seem to have rarely found the time or confidence but yet again as I am pushing social media at work I really do need to become a lot more familiar with such things myself.

My Husband is away in Spain, apparently in a Tapas bar as I type, he works for F1 so it’s not all fun, he has been working all day. And I am being distracted by two unruly dogs, one mine called Lucy and the other a Jack Russel pup belonging to my daughter called Trigger. Maybe the chill in the house is keeping them from doing what dogs do and sleeping, who knows but they are certainly hyped up.


“we are humans! look we sit in chairs”

We get to puppy sit Trigger most weekends his owner is often out, she is a Drum and Bass DJ so she is working or raving – not exactly what one imagines grand-parenting to be – but perhaps for the best at the moment. Trigger is a bit of a mystery to Lucy, she believes she is human and finds this little dog amusing and irritating unless of course he has a ball or other doggie play thing, then resist as she might, Lucy turns into a dog – its bit like Family Guy when they throw the ball for Brian, she can’t help herself.

Perhaps the depressing weather is a reflection on the Country, yesterday saw UKIP, well do nothing really, but if you listen to the news its sounds as if they have taken over the world. They got a few county councillors elected, it would seem on the back of some promises that are not in the gift of any county council anyway. Knee jerk reactions from everyone, especially all the other party leaders but it all sounds like a storm in tea-cup. Trouble is Nigel Farage on the face of it sounds like a sensible guy, bit “wanna be” country squire perhaps in his tweeds but people seem to relate to him, shame about the policies. He believes it though and I think that is what people see in him, he appears to be genuine. Unlike the vast majority of the “professional” politicians who are rarely able to voice their own opinions instead spout same old same old. I always like the wacky ones even if I detest and disagree with their point of view, I like them for having one.

Off for a hot bath now and to watch some mind numbing rubbish on the telly……………oh actually I have recorded qualifying for the MotoGP

Wednesday’s child is full of woe

Guy Martin preparing for a race at the Isle of...

Image via Wikipedia

She certainly is, a summer cold and she thinks she needs to be hospitalised. She is my 23 yr old daughter and her sudden onset of illness has just put the cherry on a “cake” of a day.

Still on the plus side this is my very first ever blog, my new outlet for all that bothers me and all that I think is brilliant, not really sure what I am doing, suppose I could have read a few others first, but hey, live dangerously!

Have a bit too much time on my hands this week, my Husband is away working in Canada with the Grand Prix so nobody home to groan to except the dog, Lucy, and she keeps her opinions to herself mostly. And this is really not a good week to spend on your own, I work in the charity sector with older people’s services so the current situation with NHS reforms are just scary. I really wish the Government would just take a long hard look at what has happened in the social care sector in last 15 yrs or so years and see what the true effects of privatisation are before they embark on the planned reorganisation.

Without doubt an older person’s lot is better today than maybe it has ever been but I really don’t believe that is attributable to influx of private/commercial care providers. As much as a pain as it is “regulation” has probably made the biggest difference and the need to regulate was driven by the voluntary sector, its not perfect by a long shot, a point graphically exposed by last weeks BBC Panorama program, but at least we have some basic standards now.

There are very good commercial care providers out there but there also some really poor ones too, and realistically you still get what you pay for in most instances. And lets be honest, if you just want to make sure older people are well looked after and that is your number 1 priority you either get a job in the voluntary or public sector or set up a social enterprise, I am so sick of hearing commercial providers ducking the issue that profit is actually at the top of their agenda. There is nothing wrong in offering a great service and making money doing it but lets not pretend the motive is in any way philanthropic. In social care most of our eggs are now in one basket and the handle is snapping!

Enough! Enough! Will no doubt come back to this………….

And what about the TT poor old Guy Martin really hope his luck picks up a bit, such a character. Those boys are nutty though its scary to even watch on the TV. And this weekend we have the British MotoGP to look forward to, go Simoncelli, really I am a huge Valentino Rossi fan but you have just got to love that boy looking to big to even ride the bike, mixing it up a bit at the front.

That’s all for now, need to go and play nurse to the sick one.