At the UK Dementia Congress 2018

Staff from the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies and students from the Doctoral Training Centre attended the UK Dementia Congress that was held in Brighton from the 6th to the 8th November 2018.  It was the 13th UK Dementia Congress and promised to offer a mix of plenary and parallel sessions, workshops, symposium presentations, poster displays and other events and installations.

Clare Mason, Jules Beresford-Dent and Akhlak Rauf share their experience of attending the congress.

Clare is a dementia care trainer and the experts by experience lead at the centre and has been attending the congress for many years and reflected on this year’s congress compared to others:

“I have attended Dementia Congress for many years now both in my current and previous roles.  This year, I was struck by how the balance of attendees has completely shifted from mostly professionals to a greater number of people with dementia and their families and professionals which to me is how it should be.  There was a much more inclusive feel and I loved how the voice of people affected by dementia shone throughout the event.  As Experts by Experience lead for the Centre, I was excited to talk to so many people who are interested in getting involved in our work.  In the past, it has been mostly family members but again, the balance has shifted.  Congress is also always a great opportunity to meet face to face with my many Twitter friends such as those from Innovations in Dementia and the many DEEP groups as well as TIDE and those I’ve met through my work as a Dementia Care Trainer.  It’s such a joy to meet up with like minded people all working towards the same aim”.

Jules is a research assistant and a part time PhD student and was attending congress for the first time. She describes her impressions of congress:

“I was looking forward to attending as I had heard from colleagues that congress aimed to be of interest to both people living with dementia, their supporters, professionals and academics working with people living with dementia.  I was struck by the compact nature of congress with many events and activities taking place in and around the main hall and I noticed that congress is an event for people to meet up and network. The opening session was a panel discussion of a motion entitled ‘The right to services is more important than disability rights for people with dementia’.  Two panel members offered their views on the motion and then audience members were invited to share their views.  This was a lively session with many audience members questioning the motion whilst sharing their views.  I took away from this session that upholding human rights should be at the heart of everything we do and if we uphold human rights, for everyone, their rights and needs should be met.

On the Wednesday morning Clare and I hosted a workshop entitled ‘A discussion of meaningful and productive involvement in dementia studies’ – the session started at 8:30am so we were half expecting empty seats!  However the room soon filled up with lots of friendly faces with some audience members asking questions and approaching us after the session to find out more about the work of the Centre.  I was able to attend the Tom Kitwood Memorial Address entitled ‘Dementia reconsidered, revisited: The person still comes first’. This is the title of a new book edited by Professor Dawn Brooker which will be published in 2019.  Dawn introduced the session and was then joined by some of the authors of the book chapters to share their reflections and commentary on the work. 

For the remainder of my time at congress I was attending the Centre’s stand to share with visitors the Centre’s approaches to education, training and research for people living with dementia, their supporters and professionals working with them too.  It was lovely to meet people whose work I have read about as well as people that were completely new to me.  There was quite a bit of interest in our Experts by Experience group with some new members joining the group.   I left congress feeling that achieving parity between the voices and experience of people with lived experience of dementia and professionals/academics working with people living with dementia is of the highest importance so that we continue to work together and learn from each other to support the common aim of improving the quality of life for people living with dementia.”

Akhlak is a part time PhD student with the University of Bradford Doctoral Training Centre, studying how South Asian carers cope with care needs of a relative with dementia.  He is investigating how South Asian carers manage the transitions relating to the care of a family member with dementia.  Akhlak describes his experience at congress:

“I was invited to the Dementia Congress as part of the symposium put together on the subject of minority communities and dementia care.  Tide (Together in Dementia Everyday) hosted the symposium which gave an overview of academic as well as practical issues affecting carers from Black, South Asian and other minority ethnic groups.  I found the conference to be  very interesting both from an academic perspective – being able to share learning from my own study as well as to talk to other students at the conference to share ideas, learning and strategies for dissemination of academic work.  However, I was also very impressed with the approach taken to include people with dementia and their carers throughout the conference.

One area for improvement (which was discussed by a number of delegates) was for future conferences to have more diversity.  I support this from the perspective of my own research, the national conversations around equality and support for all carers and people living with dementia.  I hope that the presence of Clare, Jules, Helen and myself also helped show that we ourselves are a diverse team from a city and University that reflects diversity.  As such Bradford not only demonstrates the excellent work going on through the Dementia Training Centre, other PhD studies and courses, but that we are aiming to reflect inclusion in PPI, PhD studies and future collaborations.”

If you follow us on Twitter you may already have seen what we got up to in Brighton at the UK Dementia Congress (UKDC) 2018.

All views expressed in this blog are those of the authors not of the University of Bradford or the Centre for Applied Dementia Studies.