The Start of Our Journey

Last updated on February 25, 2022
MAP Stage Index


When navigating the Neighbourhood Compass, it is important to agree on the map we will be using and to explore and define the area we want to work on to improve. The tools at this stage can help us to have conversations and explore different aspects of our neighbourhood, as well as doing some initial assessments and define some evident priorities.

Mapping Our Neighbourhood is useful to identify our experiences that support communities with the material, social and less tangible aspects of neighbourhood. What do we mean by neighbourhood, what and who makes a neighbourhood are important questions to answer when starting an OCN project.

How Good is Our Place is a simplified version of the Place Standard Tool, and it allows us to assess various aspects of our neighbourhood and provides an initial overview of what our focus of work might include.

Mapping Our Neighbourhood

This tool helps us to have conversations and explore different aspects of our neighbourhood.

It can help identify our experiences that support communities with the material, social and less tangible aspects of neighbourhood. However, it’s likely we all view our own neighbourhoods differently. This might include where you think it physically is or its social aspects.

  • Is Neighbourhood our home and the streets that surround it?
  • Is Neighbourhood made up of the buildings, the places and the people?
  • Is Neighbourhood a destination we regularly visit?
  • Is Neighbourhood the journey in between?
  • How do we define our neighbourhood?

The tool includes two creative activities to do some initial brainstorming around these questions, and to map out the social connections that make a difference.

The second section of the tool, introduces the broad categories that we will then find in How Good is Our Place. In the OCN simplified version of the Place Standard Tool we will have an opportunity to assess and rate these same aspects individually. At this stage, however, it is important to understand what makes a neighbourhood and how we can define these categories to reflect our personal experience and our community. These exercises are a chance to map what is local to us, where initial gaps can be identified, and to reflect on what makes a neighbourhood distinctive and unique.

camera_altThe categories that we will find in How Good is Our Place

How Good Is Our Place?

Image of a radar chart as produced by the Place Standard ToolWhat is the Place Standard Simplified Tool? OCN worked in partnership with Health Scotland to understand how community groups, interested in developing dementia friendly environments, might use the Place Standard Tool.

We used the Place Standard Tool during some of our early environment audits in communities and care homes and gathered feedback from our volunteers. This led to our redesigned and simplified version.

This tool includes the results of our experiences and aims to provide recommendations, and features adapted graphics for any groups living with dementia wishing to use the tool.

We have listed some tips based on our experience using the tool.

gpp_goodOCN Tips: How Good is Our Place?
  1. Ensure there is a comfortable break (with drinks, snacks, and possibly more enjoyable casual conversation or other activity) in between.
  2. Completing the tool from beginning to end can take up to 90 minutes. Consider splitting up the tool into separate, shorter sessions.
  3. Some sections, such as ‘Work and Local Economy’, might not feel relevant to some participants since they are retired or unable to work. Consider focussing on the sections our group agree are more important, especially if only a limited number of sessions are possible.
  4. The walk around normally advised as part of the workshop may not be practicable for some people living with dementia, due to issues with mobility. Consider a high ratio of facilitators to participants.
  5. Consider reading through and think of ways to re-phrase questions, or to give examples that might help the participants understand the purpose of questions. For example, with respect to ‘Voice’ the participant might consider whether they feel they have choice in matters of organised activities, meal options, etc.
  6. Consider making available, simplified, non-verbal or non-written means of communication between facilitators and assessors. These could include flash cards and/or photographic images of the areas and spaces you might be discussing as a memory aid for participants.
  7. For participants with more limited ability to communicate verbally, it may be appropriate to make use of ‘Talking Mats’, now evidenced to dramatically improve communications with people at some stages of dementia or with reduced ability to verbalise. You can also use visuals such as photos or images out of magazine if you don't have talking mats.
  8. The OCN team found the most important physical factor is that the environment where the workshop is taking place is not noisy - as this can significantly impact participants' ability to hear, and to think, whilst increasing their stress responses.
  9. People living with dementia may not respond as well as normal if their immediate social and/or environmental surroundings are unfamiliar, uncomfortable, or distracting. The choice of venue, format of the workshop, and how comfortable they are with other people in the workshop (including the facilitators), all have the potential to impact their ability and willingness to contribute.
  10. The most successful outcomes in terms of participant (with dementia) engagement is likely to be when facilitators are experienced and very familiar with the details of the tool. This could especially be the case where there is confidence to guide the discussion in a natural manner around and across the wheel of questions. Aim to make sessions feel like a relaxed conversation (rather than a formal interview).


What next?

After completing the MAP stage, it will be time to start considering a plan of action for our neighbourhood.

The next section of the Neighbourhood Compass is the NAP Stage. Here we will have the opportunity to look into what are the key pillars of neighbourhood-based work, and the different approaches that can be taken based on our priority. We might decide to focus our initial work on the Environment, Digital, or Art, or more than one. In the NAP stage, we will also build our own Neighbourhood Action Plan.