Funded by The Life Changes Trust and Stirling Council, Our Connected Neighbourhoods (OCN) is an community outreach and development project focusing on people living with dementia. Evidence-informed, OCN is making its home at the University of Stirling’s faculty of social science and will be delivered through a consortium of partner organisations. Initially centred on Stirling, we plan to expand beyond the city into the Forth Valley by the third year.
At a wider level, Our Connected Neighbourhoods is the intervention stage of Neighbourhoods: Our People Our Places.
Our Connected Neighbourhoods would not be possible without the wonderful support of the following dedicated partners.
Alzheimer Scotland, Stirling Council, Macrobert Arts Centre, NHS Forth Valley, Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC), Town Break, SSAFA Forth Valley, Memory Friendly Networks, SDS Forth Valley, Stirling Voluntary Enterprise (SVE) CESREC, Nordorf Robbins, Ideas for Ears, Stirling Libraries and CTSI.
The process and planned outcomes
Critically, OCN will be informed by people living with dementia through ongoing surveys, discussions and other co-production activity. Our ultimate goal is the development of solutions for our participants’ own neighbourhoods. We a focusing on four central themes to guide the project.
The Community Theme is the starting point for neighbourhood surveys with the specific questions focused on discovering community assets. Who are the community leaders? What support already exists within a community? The surveys will collate any information that will assist developing connections, discovering people who might want to get involved and places that could host neighbourhood groups in the pilot area.
Focusing on the role of the physical environment in supporting dementia-inclusive communities, the Environment Theme will support people living with dementia to share experiences of their locality in order to provide them with a voice in shaping their neighbourhoods. The outcomes from this strand will be used to develop accessible resources designed to help support people living with dementia to participate in the civic, physical, and social aspects of their local community.
Moving to online environments, the Digital Theme will focus on the use of technology within the context of establishing a dementia-enabling community. This will include the direct use of digital technologies by project members and assessing how tech can support people living with dementia. In addition, we hope to establish a framework for the role that digital technology can play in supporting the implementation of dementia-enabling communities.
Are there barriers to people living with dementia getting involved with or attending creative events? The Arts and Inclusion Theme will consider how we work towards a ‘cultural offer’, with an emphasis on integrating people with dementia into existing cultural events and thinking about what that might involve, rather than setting up dementia-specific provision. Because our project includes the full life cycle of dementia we are focusing work on care homes and Artlink Central will be using creative approaches to look at how connected care homes are with their community. We are looking at the development of a care home audit tool that will focus on perceived and actual connectedness. This will audit staff attitudes and knowledge of connectedness, as well as what the residents feel is important.
The Graphics and Print Theme is leading our commitment to accessible information: this means high quality dementia-enabling literature. In consultation with dementia groups, we will roll-out dementia friendly branding for the project and develop a literature audit tool with accessible resources. This will be made available to organisations and services.
Finally, when it comes to assessing OCN’s impact, volunteer researchers and people living with dementia will influence the overall evaluation focus. The project’s Engagement Education and Evaluation will use a logic model and theory of change to gauge the effectiveness of the project. Our partner Alzheimer’s Scotland will assist with developing training for volunteer researchers and ‘pop up’ educational events.