Virtual conferences and events – where have we been?

The Centre for Applied Dementia Studies had a strong presence in recent virtual conferences/events. From Alzheimer Europe Conference to UK Dementia Congress, Lindsey Collins and Ana Barbosa share their experience of presenting at these events.

Lindsey Collins

I have presented at four virtual conferences / events last autumn. The first two presentations were at Alzheimer Europe (on the 21st October) and the UK Dementia Congress (on the 11th November). At both of these conferences I spoke about the findings of my PhD thesis, specifically focusing on one of my key themes: Who is in charge? Exploring the multiple roles involved in supporting people with dementia and dysphagia (eating, drinking and swallowing difficulties) in care homes. I shared details of my qualitative study, which involved people living with dementia and dysphagia, their family members, care home staff and Speech and Language Therapists. My presentation highlighted: uncertainty relating to roles and responsibilities; how decisions are made; how disagreements are managed; and the different perspectives different groups of people bring to the table. I concluded by emphasising the importance of having clear roles, responsibilities and channels of communication between people living with dementia, family members, care home staff and healthcare professionals.

We have been working with colleagues in Korea to support them to develop a plan for embedding person-centred care in Korea. On the 20th November, the Korean Person-Centred Care Network was launched and myself, along with our Director, Siobhan Reilly, were invited to contribute to the event. Siobhan joined the former Korean Minister for Health and Welfare and the Chairwoman of the Korean Alzheimer’s Association in providing a congratulatory message for the development of the network. I then provided an introduction to person-centred care, presenting the work of Tom Kitwood to give some historical context before talking about how we can achieve person-centred dementia care through training, education and research.

My final virtual conference presentation was at the British Geriatrics Society Autumn Meeting on the 26th November, at which I had been invited to talk about the observational tool we developed at the University of Bradford: Dementia Care Mapping. In this session, I presented an overview of Dementia Care Mapping and how it can be used for care planning, practice development and research.

For all of my presentations, I recorded them in advance and the recordings were played at a specified time. I attended the conferences during these times so I could respond to questions from the audience either via text or verbally. Whilst I did miss being able to see my audience, it was a very positive experience to still be able to share my knowledge, experiences and ideas with others during a time when we physically cannot be together. I also enjoyed having access to presentations from others, which could be accessed flexibly over several weeks.


Ana Barbosa

I had the pleasure to present at the 30th Alzheimer Europe conference, which included many interesting virtual sessions and covered a wide range of inspiring topics. I presented at an online symposium organised by the INTERDEM Taskforce Assistive Technology, looking at lessons learned regarding technology, dementia and COVID-19.

My presentation “Everyday technologies and people with dementia: access, use and adaptation” – was about the ways in which everyday technologies can be adapted and used to promote independence and wellbeing in people with dementia living in the community and empower individuals in times of Covid-19. The presentation was based in recently completed funded work conducted with Prof Gail Mountain (co-author), which involved a rapid literature review of evidence on assistive technologies to support people with dementia and their carers, searches of the Internet and records of lived experience. Around seventy people attended the symposium which involved stimulating discussions and positive feedback from participants. Lessons learned from this symposium were shared in the Alzheimer Europe newsletter (p. 14,15). Some presentations at the conference are available here.

I also had the opportunity to co-present with Clare Mason (Dementia Care Trainer & Patient and Public Involvement Lead) at the UK Dementia Congress. We spoke about the development, implementation and evaluation of a dementia care training aiming to increase care home staff competence and confidence in providing person-centred dementia care. The training course was delivered to 148 care home staff (including care assistants, domestic staff, housekeeping staff, activity co-ordinators, chaplains and managers) working for a large a dementia specialist UK charitable organisation. Our findings suggested that the training significantly improved staff confidence and competence to care; was considered relevant to participants’ work; increased awareness of person-centred care; and provided a stimulus to improve the experience of individuals living with dementia. This work was led and also co-authored by Lindsey Collins (Senior Dementia Care Consultant and Trainer).

These were my first virtual conferences and I was pleasantly surprised by the online experience. Both conferences used virtual platforms where we could, for example, create our own profile, message other attendees, attend real-time or pre-recorded talks. With all these features, it felt much closer to a physical event than I was expecting.





We are now recruiting for our MSc in Advanced Dementia Studies, starting in September 2021.