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"I’m more creative than I gave myself credit for. I just need more confidence in voicing my ideas and different ways of doing things, knowing they may not be perfect, but that an element of that idea, thought or comment could be just what we need to build into or on top of another idea."

We have been working on an innovation sprint with the Physical Activity – Policy team at Alzheimer’s Society. We have been exploring how we can help people with dementia to be active as part of their day to day lives, as early as possible after diagnosis. Find out more about what we have been up to in our other update.

We asked Steve McFadyen, Senior Policy Officer – Physical Activity, how he has found his experience so far working as part of an innovation project team and through the sprint model of LIFE (Learn, Investigate, Find and Experiment). 

Over to Steve...

ae4126ed0d51297929f7f956350af37aI don’t consider myself a creative person, the most innovative thing I’ve done is make a whole bouquet of Lego flowers!

In a professional sense, (I like to think) I’m very organised and practical. But I’ve always considered myself a slow thinker. It takes me a while to read, digest, process and fully understand information before I feel confident enough to write or speak about it and add my thoughts into the mix.

Considering all that information about how non-creative I am and how on paper I would never be any use to an innovation project...we decided to work on a project within the Innovation team to develop a solution to help more people living with dementia move more as part of their day to day lives.

Here’s a bit about how I got on...

How did I prepare with no previous experience?

There was a period before the sprint started where I had to try and get a better understanding of the work, the process and learning from previous innovation projects, which would help get me thinking of how I could apply this understanding. I went through the Bring Dementia Out project evaluation (download available at the bottom of this page) and loved how people affected by dementia were at the core of the work being the main beneficiaries of the work and how important partnerships were in the success of development and a product. One thing I knew needed to be carried over into our work was the importance of measuring the impact and reach of the work. It’s so important all the way through to make sure the outcomes are evidence-based and can help us influence along the way!

I didn’t have any direct experience of how the Innovation team have followed this model. But all through my career, I’ve had to understand new methods, new databases, new people and a lot of other new things to learn. All my experience was there, and I just didn’t know how useful my previous work could be, but it was. I’ve always tried to put myself in other people’s shoes when working – trying to empathise with a person or situation. Working through this model involves speaking with a range of experts and people with lived experience, that contributes to diversity of thought. I didn’t need to have all the answers, I just needed the drive to challenge ideas, bring different perspectives into the conversations, and give us the best chance of coming up with a successful idea.

What have I learned individually?

This is a completely different way of thinking and working for me. I’m a planner, but this is stepping back and looking at the broader picture and spread of opportunities. Starting broad and not knowing which direction we are going in is challenging at times in my head, but it is really making sure we explore everything in the process to get to the right place. A habit in previous projects is to look to find a solution or a plan straightaway but for this, it’s important not to rush the early stages of insight and learning.

I’m more creative than I gave myself credit for. I just need more confidence in voicing my ideas and different ways of doing things, knowing they may not be perfect, but that an element of that idea, thought or comment could be just what we need to build into or on top of another idea.

f0e794177f824e5a8777e8b495cdc1a3I found some of the activities like ‘Creating Personas’ so much fun! This is where we build fictional characters based on the insights gathered in a project, telling their story about how a particular challenge related to them. I got into a flow and was able to do them much more easily than I thought I would, with guidance from the experts of course!

There are a lot of ideas, insight and nuggets of information collated along the way. With such a broad challenge and all the work that goes into it, it feels a bit strange to pick a solution and leave some ideas behind. However, all the insight is used in other ways to contribute to the wider programme of work, recommendations for other teams or organisations, but more than that, it’s all just useful learning to help how other ideas are developed in future.

What have I learned about how the Innovation team think and work?

The Innovation team follow the LIFE model (pictured bel- developed by Good Innovation) which I really like. They have a clear process of how to get to a solution but there’s so much flexibility within it to make it what is it. The end of each phase is reflected on to help shape the next. They really try to use the important nuggets of information and not leave anything valuable behind. And if it’s not needed for this project, it’ll go into the insight package to share with other teams.

8b6b395c8d73ae7ce7f8e3b8be583222I struggled for a while to trust the process as it was so new. We started off so broad with concepts and ideas – I couldn’t see where we were going and if it would work. I’m very visual with learning and not being able to picture what direction or what a solution would be was hard to do. But it works, so trust it.

I’ve also been impressed with how productive they are within sessions. They still find time for it to be fun, yet clear and efficient. Every session is prepared for, with key outcomes shared at the start to make sure we’re using time effectively. It’s such a simple thing but often gets overlooked and it really helps maintain focus and keep to timelines. It is a great combination of bonding us together as a team and getting the work done well and at pace.

And when we’ve blocked out time for a sprint session, it doesn’t mean we have to be on the call all the time. An example was where we joined a call to set up the task, went away to work on the task individually (off screen) and then came back to build on ideas and findings together. It was a refreshing way of making the best use of the time without feeling like we had to be on screen all the time together.

The Innovation team have a range of skills, knowledge and experience, and are continuously open to new ideas, challenges and flexible approaches to working. They proactively look for improvements and make changes to existing practice for future projects.

And back over to the Innovation team...

It has been a great experience bringing members of another team at Alzheimer’s Society onto one of our innovation sprints. We have been so impressed with how Steve McFadyen and Jenna Peel (Policy Manager – Physical Activity) have quicky picked up our model, tools and methods, and they really have felt part of the team!

55499fb164d0946d9470291c42e460beAn example of this recently was when we were building our paper prototype (see image to the right) and storyboard of the solution which we are taking forward into the Experiment stage of the sprint. Steve and Jenna were tasked to build these, based on previous examples, and instead of just using what we had provided, they went into the land of Mural (one of our go-to innovation tools) and produced some spectacular work, really bringing the solution to life (see the snippet of this to the right).

Working together has opened us up to new ways of thinking and inspired us to continue to adapt our process and model. It has brought together a great combination of skills and expertise, generated a lot of learning, freshness, and new ideas. A huge thank you to Steve and Jenna for all their insight, hard-working attitude, constructive feedback, and humour, helping us through each and every busy stage of the sprint so far!

Alzheimer’s Society is leading a project in partnership with Sport England to develop a strategy to support people living with dementia to become and stay active. As part of this, we’ve been working with the Physical Activity – Policy team at Alzheimer’s Society on an innovation sprint, exploring how we can help people with dementia to be active as part of their day to day lives, as early as possible after diagnosis.

What do we mean by ‘physical activity?’ Physical activity is anything that raises your heartrate – like dancing, walking, gardening, stretching or housework. It is not just sport and structured exercise.

What has happened so far?

We have been sprinting through the innovation LIFE model (pictured below - developed by Good Innovation) working with people affected by dementia and other experts on the physical activity topic area. We kicked-off the sprint process in January and have now arrived at a solution, which we are looking to prototype and test out in the real-world. More on that later…!

8b6b395c8d73ae7ce7f8e3b8be583222

Learn and Investigate

The earlier stages of the sprint involved undertaking desk research, holding interviews and focus groups, and exploratory exercises. This was to help us get an understanding of the important challenges which need solving around physical activity and dementia, and who our key audience should be (the ‘users’ of our final solution). Collating a high level of shared knowledge at this early stage makes it much easier to build solutions later down the line, so they are based on real challenges, which we refine as we work through the innovation model.

We spoke to 20 people affected by dementia and 29 professionals, including but not limited to: care homes, services, policy-makers, memory clinics and GPs, social care and local councils.

We brought everything we had heard through these conversations into five main themes

  • Differing perceptions around ‘physical activity’: many people automatically think it is structured sport and exercise, even though it can be anything that raises your heart rate.
  • A lack of motivation from some people with dementia to be physically active, and a varying level of social support.
  • Cognitive impact on physical ability and physical activity levels: for example, balance issues, or concerns around the risk of taking part in physical activity.
  • Limited knowledge of the importance and benefits of physical activity, both for people affected by dementia and health and social care professionals.
  • Health and social care professionals not knowing who, where, when and how to encourage people with dementia to be more active.

Find: Finding solutions together

As part of the Find stage, we held three online idea workshops at the end of March. We brought together a mix of professionals and people with lived experience of dementia to come up with ideas for solutions. We presented the five themes and used these as a springboard to generate ideas.
61 ideas were co-created!

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The Innovation and Physical Activity teams looked through every idea and shortlisted four, based on solution criteria set at the start of the sprint. These four ideas were shared with everyone who had been involved in the project alongside questions to help us decide which ideas to take into the next stage. The four ideas were: 

  • 'Borrow Me and My Doggy’: bringing purposeful and meaningful physical activity into the lives of people living with dementia, through providing them with two-to-one companionship with pet owners and their pets.
  • ‘Do it Diary’: a motivational resource to support people living with dementia to be more active, including an activity diary to record progress and an online community to provide peer support.
  • ‘Mind to Movement’: a one-to-one personalised behaviour change service to support inactive people living with dementia to increase their readiness to be active and to find ways to increase their daily activity.
  • ‘Nudge to Budge’: building physical activity messaging, prompts and guidance into communications and appointments along the dementia pathway.

We reviewed all the feedback received and based on this and our solution criteria, we picked one idea to bring forward into the Experiment stage.

We've reached the Experiment stage!

The Experiment stage is where we rapidly prototype our solution to get our ideas out of the office and into the real world. It helps us to get a proof of concept of a solution and an idea of the impact it may have in helping to improve lives of people affected by dementia, before looking to scale at a wider level.

We are engaging with various experts and people with dementia to help build and test our solution. We are not looking to ‘reinvent the wheel’ and will be using available resources and spaces for this prototype stage.

Based on all thefeedback we have received, the solution we are building and testing is: the ‘Feel Good Folder’, previously known as Do It Diary, along with an online version (including the Feel Good online community). We know everyone is different and people are motivated in different ways so there is a lot of variety in this idea to allow people to develop something that works for them in their lives now and adapt it in the future. We will also make these resources and tools available to professionals supporting people affected by dementia. 

We are looking to quickly build a prototype of the solution in May and test it out over the summer months. We will be gathering feedback and iterating our solution at each stage. We will then be exploring options to plan for scaling the solution from later in the summer.

The paper prototype of the solution:

55499fb164d0946d9470291c42e460be


Thank you

Thank you to everyone who has helped us to move quickly through this work by being flexible and sharing their experiences, co-creating ideas and helping us to understand how we can build this solution. We are really excited for this next stage and we’ll keep you updated as we keep sprinting through it!

You can read about Steve McFadyen’s experience of working on the innovation project team in his guest blog: My LIFE as an Innovator.


In November 2020, the Innovation Team began our latest sprint project on banking and dementia, sponsored by Santander. At each stage your involvement through the innovation hub has helped keep decisions grounded in people’s real-life experiences, so thank you once again to everyone who has contributed.

At the start of the project, you logged onto the hub and helped us narrow down the challenge area to...

‘how might we enable people affected by dementia to make better financial decisions?’.

This guided our research throughout the Learn and Investigate stages of our sprint process.

Getting to grips with the topic

We had limited knowledge about neither the most pressing issues around banking and dementia, nor any existing solutions, so we set about finding out more.

Our research involved…

  • Desk research - reports, money management guidance, bank websites, Talking Point support forum
  • 13  interviews with people affected by dementia
  • 10 interviews with a range of professional stakeholders including innovation specialists, Santander employees, dementia knowledge specialists, think tanks, charities and researchers
  • 25 survey responses from front-line bank employees
  • 4 ideasworkshops involving Society colleagues, professionals and people with lived  experience

Gathering insights

At this point, the team would normally gather for a day or two with a selection of snacks and a large box of post-it notes to analyse and theme everything we had read about and heard. However, due to coronavirus restrictions, we had to innovate ourselves and take our session online, using a virtual whiteboard called ‘Mural’. The image below was the output of 3 hours of work.  

Post it note analysis

Eventually, we identified four key insight areas:

  1. Overspending – People reported accidentally making repeat purchases and sometimes purchasing things they don’t need.
  2. Independence vs dependence – the importance of keeping someone safe without not limiting their freedom.
  3. Scams, fraud and financial abuse – too frequently people with dementia are taken advantage of, resulting in losing large sums of money.
  4. Difficulties with security clearance – forgetting passwords etc can be frustrating and limit’s people access to their money. In addition, carers struggle to provide the necessary support without being designated Power of Attorney.  

There was also a cross-cutting theme around the need for a trusting and understanding relationship between people living with dementia, their supporters, and banks.

Finding solutions

Next, it was time to get creative, as we entered our Find stage. We gathered 25 people across 4 online workshops. Each group worked through one of these insight areas, drawing on the goals and frustrations of some fictional ‘personas’ as well as their own personal or professional experience. Having such a diverse mix of people meant we could all bounce off each other, producing ideas we could never have thought of alone. At the end of the week we had collectively produced 66 ideas for solutions to the challenge area!

                     

After the workshops, the team condensed these down into five concepts which were posted back on the innovation hub for you to comment and vote on. In addition, an amazing 169 Santander employees responded to a survey, adding some rich insights into how these concepts could support their customers. The concepts were:

  1. My Money Meeting – regular meetings with a financial advisor
  2. Account Angel Alerts – automated alerts to unusual spending
  3. Your money at your fingertips – fingerprint and facial recognition as security details
  4. Banking with dementia support line – specially trained advisors to support with a range of banking needs
  5. Interactive bank statement – accessible and meaningful statements to which you can add your own notes about purchases

So what’s next?

We’ve listened to your feedback and built on these ideas, and will now be taking forward … drumroll please… the Banking with Dementia Support Line!

Although there was merit in all five ideas, the support line came out top with a whopping 94% of 169 Santander staff saying it would be ‘very’ or ‘extremely’ helpful. People affected by dementia agreed, saying that it would enable them to maintain control over their own money and would save families a lot of stress and worry.

“Having a 'one stop shop' to point them in the right direction of high-quality resources and tools to make everyday life easier would really help” (Carer of person with dementia).

The next step is to test the idea in the real world, hopefully with a small-scale pilot later this year.  Watch this space for updates!

Taking on coronavirus together!

Posted by Natasha Morgan (Admin) Apr 8, 2020

A month ago, we would never have guessed we would be building solutions to support people affected by dementia through a pandemic, yet that is where we find ourselves.

The spread of coronavirus has changed all our lives, but the impact has been felt particularly strongly by those affected by dementia, many of whom were already vulnerable and isolated. At Alzheimer’s Society we’re doing all we can to focus our resources on supporting those who need us through welfare calls, online information and influencing relevant organisations.

As innovators, our team have been keeping a close eye on the way both Alzheimer’s Society and wider society has adapted to deal with the situation.

We all must adapt and find new ways of doing things. This is what innovation is all about.    

We have had to change how we work as a team, pausing some projects in order to focus on coronavirus, and finding new ways to do things online. This week, we brought together 16 people for a virtual ideas workshop to come up with potential solutions to address continence issues. Normally we would hold this in a room with tables, flipcharts, and plenty of post-it notes, so the online format was a first for us.

More widely, we’ve been inspired by the speed  and creativity with which communities have rallied together. From mutual aid groups to clapping for key workers and spreading hope with rainbows in windows. 

As always, we want our response to the crisis to be grounded in what people affected by dementia want and need so we can create an effective solution, together.

This begins with the latest activity on the innovation hub: COVID-19 and dementia - your challenges.

Visit the activity page and share the challenges that you are facing now, as well as your concerns for the future. Comment on other people’s posts. Vote to show what matters to you. Share any opportunities you know of for us to collaborate with other organisations to produce solutions which work.

          Let’s take on coronavirus together!

                      

Innovation update - April 2020

Posted by Natasha Morgan (Admin) Apr 8, 2020

The Innovation team were kept busy during the first few months of 2020. We brought the hospital project to life and challenged our misconceptions about continence issues.

Unfortunately, the onset of the Coronavirus pandemic has required us to shift priorities to ensure all people affected by dementia get the support they need at this challenging time. We’ve put these projects on hold and look forward to picking-up where we left off when things get back to normal.

For now, we would like to share where we are up to…

How might we ensure people affected by dementia get the immediate support they need to leave hospital safely and without delay?

Our solution, the Hospital Journey Tracker emerged from a series of ideas workshops involving 7 people affected by dementia and 25 health and social care professionals. We came up with 100 ideas overall. After several rounds of shortlisting the Hospital Journey Tracker was felt to be the solution with the potential to make the most immediate and significant impact for people affected by dementia.

The Hospital Journey Tracker is a system which emails status updates to a named patient representative to inform them of what is happening now and what is expected to happen next in a patient's care. These updates might include that a patient is undergoing medical treatment, having tests, or that planning in taking place for discharge. We found people leave hospital quicker when they’re well supported by a carer or loved one that is kept informed, able to assist in in hospital assessments and to plan for discharge arrangements. We hope in making processes more transparent, the updates will facilitate conversations between people supporting someone with dementia in hospital with health professionals. From our feedback, people affected by dementia saw the impact this could have and professionals could see how efficient this could be in the future.

To build the tracker, we teamed up with Luton and Dunstable University Hospital (L&D) and our software partner called Phew!. L&D and Phew! were already working together to build a patient discharge management system. This helped accelerate the development process as we could build on the existing system, rather than having to create a new one from scratch. We worked as a close team throughout, taking the lead from Yvonne, Dementia Nurse Specialist, on what would be valuable yet practical to implement in the hospital setting.

Once we had an outline of what the tracker might look like, we went back to people affected by dementia who had been involved previously. We asked them to feedback on the wording to go in the status updates, and on the information sheets which will be handed out to patients and their families during the pilot. Now, all that was left was to build the tracker itself and to launch the pilot in the hospital.

A prototype of the email update: 

                                                

Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic hit just as the software development was due to begin and as demands on the hospital increased, we had to postpone the project. It’s a real shame as Yvonne at L&D agreed that something like the tracker, which allows people to be involved with a patient’s care from a distance, would have been so valuable in this time when people are not allowed to visit their loved ones in hospital. This only spurs us on even more to make sure it gets built in the future.   

                                            

Continence and going to the toilet

Back in November, we selected ‘Staying dry – continence and dementia’ as the topic for our next project.

Continence and going to the toilet is a taboo topic that doesn’t receive attention, so we wanted to open up the conversation and look for new ways to support people affected by dementia. Once we started learning about the topic area, it very quickly became apparent just how significant it is.

Compared with people without a dementia diagnosis, people with a dementia diagnosis have approximately three times the rate of diagnosis of urinary incontinence, and more than four times the rate of faecal incontinence. This can be related to problems with the bladder and bowels or related to symptoms of dementia such as not being able to find or recognise the toilet.

We investigated the topic by reading over 30 documents and speaking with 27 subject experts, and seven people with personal experience. We also spent a day observing in a care home, and even bought some pull-up continence pants for ourselves.

Our research identified three key themes:

1. Promoting continence – helping people stay continent is really important, but staff and families aren’t aware of how to do this, and too often incontinence pads are used as the first rather than last resort.

2. Managing incontinence – when people do need containment products such as pads, they should be the right product for the person, and of a sufficient quantity for them, but too often people aren’t receiving the best product for them, or enough of the products to adequately meet their needs.

3. Stigma of continence issues above and beyond the stigma of dementia means that many people don’t seek help until they reach a crisis. Stigma can be exacerbated by healthcare professionals who sometimes consider that continence problems are just to be expected amongst older people, especially people with dementia. These attitudes go against expert guidance and can prevent people from getting adequate support

In March, we moved into the Find stage where we look to find solutions. We were determined not to let the Coronavirus pandemic stop us, so instead of our usual face to face ideas workshops, we held two ‘virtual’ workshops, involving 14 people with a mix of personal and professional experience. This was the first time we had done this, so we were pleased that it worked so well. We were spurred on by the passion of everyone in the session who produced some excellent ideas.

             People holding workshop on zoom

We will be posting these ideas on the Innovation Hub and asking you to vote and comment on which you think we should develop further. There may be a delay in us moving to the next stage while we focus on innovating to support people affected by dementia through coronavirus.

 

There are over 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia. Some of these people are LGBT+, yet a previous innovation sprint revealed how many aren’t getting the support they need.

Everyone’s experience of dementia is unique, but there are many additional challenges that LGBT+ people affected by dementia face, such as:

  • LGBT+ people with dementia may experience past memories more vividly than recent ones. They might believe they are living in a time in which being LGBT+ is still illegal and fear repercussions.
  • Trans people with dementia may also experience stronger memories of the time before they transitioned. This can make day-to-day activities, such as dressing and using the bathroom, confusing and distressing.
  • Some LGBT+ people may experience stigma, and fear discrimination when sharing information with health and social care providers.

Alzheimer’s Society worked together with people affected by dementia, national and local organisations and LGBT+ communities in the development of the Bring Dementia Out innovation in 2018 to 2019. The aim of Bring Dementia Out was to help LGBT+ people affected by dementia feel more comfortable in coming forward to access the information and support they need. A number of resources were developed and tested over a two-month period in Brighton and Hove and in Greater Manchester. This included a video sharing people’s experiences, and a booklet and webpage with steps on how best to support people and signposting to useful organisations and information.

Bring Dementia Out saw great results thanks to the dedicated working group, which included volunteers with lived experience, Alzheimer’s Society colleagues and the partner organisations. Together, they reached LGBT+ people affected by dementia and also helped to increase awareness and understanding of the challenges faced within the communities and amongst health and social care professionals.

One of the biggest achievements is that they key organisations involved are now taking the innovation forward to lead on scaling it at a wider level. This includes LGBT Foundation, the National Dementia Action Alliance, The Guinness Partnership, the National LGB&T Partnership and Switchboard.

If you want to find out more about Bring Dementia Out, visit the LGBT foundation website, or contact the Bring Dementia Out Programme Coordinator, Claire Days, on claire.days@lgbt.foundation.

LGBT+ flag with two people in United Against Dementia T-shirts

After the Dementia Friendly General Practices Project in Nottingham and Derbyshire came to an end back in 2018, we were aware that there was a need to explore this area further and so with what we had learnt from that project, we set out to identify the challenges General Practices and people affected by dementia are currently facing. Michelle Davies, Senior Innovator, has written this blog to update on progress, and ask for feedback on two prototypes (details at the end).

Keen to take on this new project, the Innovation Team started researching this area and began by applying the LIFE model of innovation. In keeping with our approach to innovation​ ​we began by identifying the challenge and then framing this as a question:

‘How can we help General Practice to better meet the needs of people affected by dementia and better understand pathways to further support?’

We wanted to ‘learn’ about the work that was already taking place within General Practices for the benefit of people affected by dementia across England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We needed to research over 20 existing projects and contracted service provision involving General Practice and a range of organisations. Our aim was to delve into what seemed to be working well within those projects, what wasn’t working so well, what was surprising and what we wanted to explore further through interviews.

We were interested to learn about the range of work taking place, both short-term funded, time limited projects and also longer-term services commissioned by Clinical Commissioning Groups and delivered by Alzheimer’s Society or other organisations. This led us to interviewing a range of stakeholders and experts in this area, including Commissioning Managers, other dementia related organisations, NHS Patient Experience Leads, research fellows and more. By doing this we gained a greater understanding of the challenges faced by both people affected by dementia and General Practice.

We set out to ‘investigate’ these challenges further by speaking with GP’s, other General Practice team members and importantly people affected by dementia, to hear about their experiences when visiting their GP.

We have heard GP’s talk about the time pressures they are facing when seeing patients and how limited time makes it difficult to gain an insight and a real understanding of the impact that dementia is having on their patient’s life.

GP’s and people affected by dementia also spoke about wanting to know what happens next, who does what and when, from pre-diagnosis to end of life. Some GP's shared their thoughts about how difficult it is to signpost and/or refer patients on to suitable services when they have little knowledge of available local and national services for people affected by dementia.

In total we have spoken with 115 people to gather a range of insights. Some other themes to arise from our discussions with GP’s and people affected by dementia focused on: issues with continuity of care; multiple GP’s involved in a patients care; annual reviews requiring greater consistency with a person centred approach; greater knowledge and understanding of dementia; limited dementia training; difficulties managing expectations; timescales for referrals to memory clinics; social prescribing being seen by some as the answer for all and many more thought provoking points.

 

workshop at Alzheimer's Society

On hearing the challenges faced by GP’s and people affected by dementia, we started to think about how we could ‘find’ solutions to help both GP’s and people affected by dementia.

During our creative thinking workshop, which involved people affected by dementia and a range of professionals, we started to develop ideas for solutions for the challenges and then we asked people to vote for their top three solutions.

GPs workshop

 

After gathering feedback from over 70 people on the top solutions, we are pleased to share that we now have 2 solutions, which have made it through to the ‘experiment’ stage and have been developed as paper prototypes. They are the Dementia Journey Map and Annual Dementia Appointment for General Practice Teams. We would love to have your feedback on these prototypes, which will help determine the next steps such as testing in the real world!

Dementia Journey Map

Annual Dementia Appointment for General Practice Teams

Many thanks

Michelle Davies,

Innovation Team

 

Our most recent sprint project is all about preventing people getting stuck in hospital longer than necessary. We're especially excited about tackling this challenge as it's the first that came from this Alzheimer's Society Innovation Hub – chosen after suggestions and votes from Alzheimer's Society employees and volunteers.

After some initial reading about the topic, we developed a clear statement of our challenge: 

How might we ensure people affected by dementia get the immediate support they need to leave hospital safely and without delay?

Tim from the Team in one of the hospitals we visited

We started the sprint in June 2019 and in the first two phases we learnt as much as we can about the challenge from desk research and interviews with experts, and we investigated it further by talking to people who would benefit from a solution and visiting the places where we want to make a difference to immerse ourselves in the topic.

The way people have given their time and shared their knowledge that will help us tackle this challenge has been hugely motivating and given us really useful insights.

W​e have read over 60 documents on the topic, visited 5 hospitals, spoken with 14 people with lived experience of dementia and over 60 health and social care professionals (from front line staff to clinical commissioners).

We've found that this is a complex area and there is a lot already going on to make improvements. At the start of September we had a session to bring together all of the information that we have heard and analysing it to find the key themes. We are now identifying the areas we think we should focus on in the next stage of the project.

Team synthesising what we've learnt so far

Our next steps will be to work together with professionals and people affected by dementia to look at these areas and find possible solutions to then build on and develop further. We are open to a range of solutions – it could be something for Alzheimer's Society to do, for us to work in partnership to deliver, or to enable other organisations to do, but it needs to be feasible and scalable. Whatever we develop, we will carry out an experiment to test it out in the real world allowing us to constantly improve and discover whether our solution has potential to be effective on a large scale.

We are excited to see where this project will take us. Meeting so many people who are working hard and are keen to continuously improve the experience of people affected by dementia has given us a real optimism and motivation to find a way we can help in this area too.

We're looking forward to keeping you up to date with our next developments!