Seminar: Dementia, Environment and Community

Tuesday 2nd June 2009
Eden Project, Bodelva, Cornwall

Dementia impacts on a large and increasing percentage of our society. We are an ageing population facing new challenges and opportunities that we need to adapt to.  The new National Dementia Strategy challenges us all to improve our knowledge of dementia, to provide greater support at both professional and community level to people with dementia, their families and other carers and to increase the quality of care and people’s well-being.

This one-day seminar provided an insight into positive, creative and inspiring techniques that can be used to support and improve the quality of life for people with dementia and their families/carers; to assist them in using the creative skills and knowledge that they have accumulated through their lives to bring greater stimulus to their daily lives and to others.

The day consisted of speakers and practical activities that assisted participants in creating supportive outdoor environments that meet the needs of people with dementia, providing stimulating and safe settings for them, their carers and visitors.

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Dr. John Ziesel – President and co-founder of the Hearthstone Alzheimer's Family Foundation and Hearthstone Alzheimer Care Ltd. He promotes non-pharmacologic treatment for Alzheimer's disease, including environmental design, music, communication, caregiver education, and art. The author of numerous books and articles, his work has been featured extensively in the media. His most recent publication, I’m Still Here, explains how to connect with someone through the fog of dementia. Previous publications include Independence through Interdependence: Congregate Housing for Older People and Inquiry by Design.

Simon Evans - Research Fellow in the Faculty of Health and Social Care at the University of the West of England. He has broad experience of researching services for older people across housing, health and social care and has published widely on housing options in later life. Simon is an Associate of Dementia Voice and sits on the Executive Committee of the British Society of Gerontology. His interests include research ethics and user involvement in research. Recent research projects include:

  • An evaluation of the Gloucestershire Partnerships for Older People Project (POPP).
  • The suitability of extra care housing for people with dementia
  • Social wellbeing in extra care housing
  • Rehabilitation services for people with dementia
  • Balanced retirement villages? A case study of Westbury fields

Ray Liles, Sensory Development Manager, Cornwall Care, has been working in mental health since 1982 and in residential care (specialising in dementia care) since 1997. He joined Cornwall Care in 2000. In his role as Sensory Development Manager he works to improve the indoor and outdoor environments of Cornwall Care’s residential homes. His work includes enhancing the garden at one residential home through close collaboration with the residents and by involving people from the community. This has ensured that the outdoor space now provides for the needs of the residents.  Ray has recently developed a new project for Cornwall Care; the Active Life project seeks to support all home and community staff in providing an excellent quality of life for older people through purposeful and meaningful activities. 

Wendy Brewin, Inclusive Communities Co-ordinator, Sensory Trust, has many years experience engaging socially excluded groups and involving them in the design and management of outdoor spaces. Her work currently focuses on engaging with groups of older people to re-connect them to their outdoor environment. She develops and applies creative techniques to help older people re-connect with local green spaces and to help carers understand how they can use these techniques to improve the quality of life for themselves and those they care for.

This event was part of a series of inspirational happenings leading up to the four-day Sense of Place conference in September 2009. Entitled Sustainable Placemaking, this year’s conference looks at future thinking, social and cultural capital, place-based learning, health, sustainability, inclusion and participation. International speakers, practical workshops and a range of engaging activities will explore what communities can do now to thrive in the future. More about A Sense of Place...