This document will help us through building our first half of the Neighbourhood Action Plan (Stage 1). We can use this as inspiration and guidance, while we complete our printed copy of our own NAP. This guide focuses on the pillars of neighbourhood-based work, the preliminary conditions to address and systems to put in place for success.
Intro: Some of the aims and background to each category, as well as links to useful resources.
Our Experience Examples and case studies of how OCN put this into practice.
OCN Tips: What the OCN team have found useful.
Networks and Partnerships
“Partnership is an ongoing working relationship where risks and benefits are shared.”
In ‘The Art of Partnering’ Kings College suggest that this means:
“a commitment to mutuality, in the form of:
– contributions, albeit of different types, from all those involved;
– co-creation/co-ownership of the partnership’s activities; and
– shared risk, responsibility, and accountability”
When we think about dementia-friendly networks & partnerships from a neighbourhood perspective we could mean family, friends and neighbour networks. We think it’s also helpful to look wider.
OCN developed a partnership network model including dementia organisations, people living with dementia, carers, arts organisations, libraries, and schools.
When developing partnerships in outlying villages around Stirling, OCN approached Stirling Council’s Community Engagement Team who were responsible for the villages Partners Network.
The network had ceased to meet after a member of council staff had left.
OCN proposed re-convening the group in partnership with a UK wide dementia organisation. The Partnership Network could focus on developing a dementia-friendly approach in the village until the time a member of staff were available to take over as convenor.
This would help to embed the dementia-friendly agenda in future partnership meetings.
- A high number of OCN partnerships were created by simply approaching organisations and finding common ground. Examples of partners might include third sector interfaces, Alzheimer’s Scotland dementia advisors, local libraries, care homes, schools, and shops. Examples of networks might include Council community engagement team partnership networks, mutual aid groups, charity networks, community planning partnerships.
- Try to keep networks and partnerships informed, up to date, and included, and try to meet on a regular basis to maintain and sustain your network & partnerships.
- Your network & partnerships may change over time as pieces of work start and finish. New members might join and others might step back.
- There is a lot of legislation to support more community empowerment supported by networks and partnerships. For example, the Community Empowerment Act aims to support our communities to do things for themselves and to make their voices heard in the planning and delivery of services.
Volunteers have been the life blood of OCN and contribute enormously to their neighbourhoods and communities. They have contributed to every area from development & delivery to evaluation.
OCN used a formal organisational volunteering model. There are other volunteer models and approaches that might work better for your neighbourhood. There are volunteer organisations who can support you; local volunteer centres, or Third Sector Interfaces, are in each of the 52 local authorities and can support you with volunteer recruitment.
When the COVID 19 Virus pandemic occurred and Scotland went into lockdown our volunteers were able to adapt their roles quickly to respond. Safe and well calls provided by volunteer to
participants allowed volunteers to build on an already established relationship and further encourage and support neighbourhood connectedness between participants, which held great value for them. Volunteers were also in a unique position, with permission from participants, to collect story’s and develop blogs documenting the impact of the pandemic on the lives of people living with dementia and unpaid carers.
You can read more about this on our blog.
- Be clear about what role volunteers will take and what the time commitment is likely to be. A written volunteer role description can be both clear and flexible.
- You can advertise for volunteers but word of mouth is still top of the list for attracting volunteers.
- You could have a dedicated volunteer role for recruiting other volunteers.
- Let volunteers try out the role before they commit.
- Be flexible with time and approaches. Chances are volunteers will be juggling multiple commitments.
- Develop different ways people can volunteers.
- Promote the positive difference volunteers can make and the positive impact volunteering can have on volunteers.
- Find your local third sector interface here.
Inclusion and Steps to Engagement
Inclusion is at the heart of the OCN approach. Through using these resources we want to promote active citizenship by people living with dementia and place making. It’s helpful to look at who can be included in our connected neighbourhood.
The chances are we already know people who are living with dementia and their unpaid carers who might be interested.
OCN also included and engaged with local care homes. There may be former carers who would be interested. Each of these groups and people bring valued perspective and experience that will make the path to our connected neighbourhood meaningful, adaptable and valuable.
One way to promote local engagement and stimulate meaningful conversations is to run a Conversation Cafe. OCN has put together some downloadable resources to help setting that up: Conversation Cafe guide, facilitator/s brief and agenda template (.pdf); Cafe/event sign in sheet (.doc); Cafe/event feedback form (.doc). Here is a link to some useful guidance from DEEP, on writing promotional material and information that is dementia-friendly.
People living with dementia and unpaid carers have been meaningfully included and engaged with OCN from the very beginning of the project. Every step from deciding the name and logo through to the topics at conversation cafes and ideas for community clusters have all been influenced through inclusion and engagement.
Areas of the project with meaningful inclusion and engagement also include: environment, arts and culture, digital technology, community development, printed literature, venue choice, meeting times, blogs, stories and case studies, feedback influencing wider policy and practice, dementia organisational collaboration, single pathway referrals to name a few.
- Think wider. Aim to identify and include and engage allies, community leaders and active volunteer community members and enlist their support with developing our connected neighbourhood. What organisations are working to influence policy and practice and how could our dementia friendly neighbourhood feed into them?
- It takes time and effort to meaningfully include and engage include and engage people living with dementia and unpaid carers. Don’t be discouraged.
- Include and engage residents in local care homes.
- If we know someone with dementia and their carers living in our neighbourhood, we can consider approaching them ourselves or ask to be introduced.
- Consider approaching dementia support groups already happening that could help us spread the word and include and engage people.
- It might be helpful to invite people to an initial meeting to talk about developing our connected neighbourhood. To maximise inclusion and engagement try to organise a time that doesn’t clash with already established support groups.
- Remember not everyone living with dementia and their unpaid carers might want to be identified and approached. Be sensitive and respectful of this.
- Not everyone will be able to attend all the time. Including a range of people and different options for times to meet, will allow our connected neighbourhood to keep momentum.
- Pick up the phone. Not everyone regularly uses or responds to e-mail.
Stigma and Visibility
We need to make sure in our efforts to reduce stigma and barriers and increase people’s visibility, we don’t invariably create new barriers and less visibility. Different people respond and react differently to certain labels and words dependent on their perception, environment, community, experience and neighbourhood. Many dementia projects experienced including the word dementia in publicity materials created a barrier for some people who have a negative response to the word.
People’s experiences can be different from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. Some OCN participants told us they feel vulnerable in their neighbourhood being identified as living with dementia. Others told us they felt well supported and safe. It’s important to consider peoples personal circumstances and wishes when it comes to thinking about stigma and visibility.
Thinking about stigma and visibility of people living with dementia and unpaid carers in our neighbourhood is important. By identifying stigma and considering peoples visibility we can start to adapt our approach and look at solutions.
An OCN participant living with dementia felt they needed to stop attending a local older adults outing group due to experiencing stigma from some of the others attending.
Through the OCN partnership, the leader of the group was approached. Then a dementia friend’s discussion and session was held with the group.
This resulted in the participant feeling comfortable enough to return to the group.
- There’s a good chance that other people living with dementia in our neighbourhood are having similar experiences. By connecting up we can provide mutual support to each other.
- Some people living with dementia don’t like using the word dementia. When designing leaflets or promotional materials, consider subtle ways to connect and involve people living with dementia such as the use of the forget-me-not flower or the phrase memory difficulties.
- Partnering with an organisation who are working towards reducing stigma can be helpful. Perhaps local organisations of businesses work towards becoming a dementia friend?
- Like one of our examples, perhaps community groups could arrange a bespoke dementia friend’s session.
- Encouraging conversations about dementia can reduce the stigma attached to it.
Barriers and Opportunities
Using the information gathered during the MAP stage, or as we consider the previous components independently, we should now be able to identify some of the real barriers for our neighbourhood.
Rather than thinking of Barriers and Opportunities as separate categories, it might be useful to see how existing issues could be turned into strengths.
Identifying barriers will allow us to develop a plan to use the bank of OCN resources as a focused response to the existing issues
A younger couple, living with early on set dementia, felt effectively barred from most of the social groups for people with dementia, because they perceived the groups catered for much older participants. This barrier was turned into an opportunity when the younger couple were recruited as volunteers for one of the social groups.
This also created opportunity for the couple to give feedback and advice on the setting up of a group for themselves and others with early on-set dementia.
- Identify barriers early.
- Challenges can be turned into strengths.
- The resources share our learning process, as a lesson to draw upon.
- Create a plan and the next small manageable steps we and our group can take.
- We might not be able to identify an opportunity for every barrier right away. Opportunities might become apparent as our network, partnership and volunteer involvement grow.