Dementia Carer Voices were delighted to be invited to the International Dementia Conference in Edinburgh last week. This conference was organised after the G8 Summit Declaration in a bid to share knowledge and good practice around the world on improving the quality of care in dementia and the outcomes for people with dementia and their families and carers. Click here to see the key outcomes from the event.
Our very own Irene Oldfather supported a workshop on the first day, which offered a fantastic opportunity to learn from colleagues and carers from all over the world, whilst colleague Tommy Whitelaw delivered a speech to delegates on the second day of the event. Tommy was in fantastic company, as the other speakers that morning included Geoff Huggins, the Acting Director of Health and Social Care Integration; Agnes Houston from the Scottish Dementia Working Group; Alex Neil, Cabinet Secretary for Health and Wellbeing; and Jeanette Maitland from the National Dementia Carers Action Network.
The team was thrilled to be able to contribute to this discussion, and to be invited along to learn more. Highlights of the 2 day event included hearing from guest speakers from around the world. Gillian Ayling who has worked in the civil service for 21 years gave a fantastic perspective of the landscape in Britain and Geoff Huggins spoke positively about the future in Scotland.
It was fantastic to hear from Professor Kim Woong Kim from Seoul Natinal University about the innovative ways that Korea have used technology to ensure that people are able to access information about dementia, including via an app on their phone. Furthermore, it was inspiring to hear from Dr Kentaro Horibe from the Department of Cognitive Disorders National Centre for Geriatrics and Gerontology about the culture in Japan of respect and understanding of dementia, and how people had really felt the impact of this through the compassion that was shown. Other speakers from the day included Drew Holzapfel, Marc Barlow, Jeremy Hughes, and Gerry Martin.
The key messages which came out of the conference mainly focused on the potential for the international community to work together on a variety of areas.
A recurring theme of the conference was the need for better access to clinical trials in order to develop our understanding of dementia, and improve the outcomes for people who have dementia and their carers. The conference also focused on the benefits of using technology when offering post diagnostic services, along with the importance of involving people with dementia, their carers and family members directing in their own care co-ordination. Through working with other countries, there is a real chance to learn from each other to improve the services and experiences of people affected by dementia.
The need for a range of effective, safe and person-centred services was reiterated as being an international priority, along with developing new approaches to place-based support for people with dementia and their carers. It was highlighted that there was a lot to learn from the experience of other diagnostc groups such as cancer. Discussion also took place around establishing common quality standards. Dementia Carer Voices welcomes this and at the conference, stressed the importance of the involvement of people with dementia and their families and carers in future work.
On a fundamental level, there was a general consensus that the knowledge and skills that have been acquired in different countries can and should be shared. There is a wide range of experience on areas such as workforce training and development, and of different approaches and initiatives that have been successful and the reasons why. By learning from these experiences, the international community can be truly united in it’s fight against dementia.
The whole event was inspiring, and it was fantastic to be able to celebrate all of the wonderful work that is being done the world over to support people affected by dementia. We can all #makeadifference