My Time at the UK Dementia Congress in Brighton

Posted in: About Dementia, EngD, Events, Technology

If you follow me on Twitter you may already have seen everything I got up to in Brighton last week at the UK Dementia Congress (UKDC) 2018. I had a fantastic time and am so pleased that I was able to attend this national conference for dementia. I would like to share some of my highlights with you.

The People

The UKDC is for anyone interested in or affected by dementia, so one of the key reasons I went was to meet a range of different people. Presentations from designers, occupational therapists, people with dementia, carers of people with dementia, researchers, and many others showed me the breadth of the field of dementia and dementia care, so I now feel that I have a bigger picture of who my research is about, why it is important, and how it might fit in with what is already out there.

The Exhibition Space at UKDC 2018
The Exhibition Space at UKDC 2018

Something else I picked up is that there are many people with dementia and/or their carers who want to get involved with research. It was really useful for me to hear from people who have been involved in research, as it taught me that I should empower them to make their voices heard and to make them feel useful in the research process, not just a 'tool'. As I prepare to develop workshops and studies involving people with dementia, the tips I picked up at the UKDC will come in handy for ensuring the comfort of those who want to get involved.

Understanding Dementia

In order to gain a better understanding of what living with dementia might be like, I took part in the Four Seasons Health Care Dementia Experience. It demonstrated what someone with moderate-to-severe dementia might go through on a daily basis by obscuring our sight, hearing, and touch and asking us to memorise and complete three tasks. I did not finish my three tasks...

On the other hand, a key concept that I noticed was the importance of reducing the stigma around dementia. I heard personal stories and presentations from people with dementia and their friends and family, and it was a pleasure to see the individuality of each of them.

The conference was my first opportunity to meet people with dementia, and it reminded me to throw any preconceptions I may have out of the window. People can live well with dementia, and the work I saw at the conference is all about enabling this.

Technology Session

One of the highlights for me was the session on technology for dementia. In particular, a group shared their novel virtual reality (VR) film called The Way Back, which can transport you back to the Queen's Coronation in 1953. The video on their website shows how people with dementia actively engaged with the activity, which involved looking through a cardboard headset to view the 360-degree film. Here's a short snippet of that film that I took at a similar session:

This was really positive for me to see, as I was concerned about using such new technology with a group who may be unfamiliar with it. Since augmented reality (AR) is close to VR, I was encouraged to see such a positive response.

Back in Bath

Equipped with my newfound knowledge from the UKDC, I am now keen to get to know people locally. I am looking forward to visiting the Peggy Dodd Centre, who have kindly invited me to visit one day next week to meet everyone there. I am also looking for other opportunities in the area, so please do get in touch if you would like to learn more about me and my project.

Keep an eye out for updates on my research in the coming weeks! Thank you for reading.

Posted in: About Dementia, EngD, Events, Technology

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