Improving practice as a Dementia Ambassador

Tracey Chisholm works at Perth and Kinross Council’s Lewis Place Day Centre.  She became a Dementia Ambassador at the end of 2015. Here she talks about her experience and the improvements she’s made to her practice by using the Promoting Excellence, Dementia Skilled – Improving Practice resource in particular.
Tracey Chisholm

Tracey Chisholm

‘I first became passionate about dementia care after completing the “Improving Practice” course through Dementia Services Development Centre.  Through the online forum, I was able to see some of the good work being carried out but the main catalyst for me was the passion displayed by the staff who were committed to improving the dementia journey for clients and carers.  It brought me to the conclusion and strong belief that with the correct help, support and understanding – people living with dementia can live fulfilled, happy and healthy lives.

‘Not long after this I was able to go through the skilled level of Promoting Excellence which I found positive and inspiring.  The format is clear and easy to use so I then became a facilitator for this training.  I have now supported all of the team at Lewis Place Day Centre, Perth through this as well as some staff from other units.  This is only the start though as we need to make sure we all continue to work at this level.  We will now make additional training and discussion a priority at any of our team days in the future.  We will continue to be proactive and creative in supporting people.  At our last team day we looked at stress and distress specific to individual clients with the goal of developing further the person centred support we provide for them.

‘I have loved watching the confidence and knowledge of individual staff grow and ultimately see how the care we give to clients has continued to improve.  We are now able to support clients living with dementia for much longer through person-centred support, life story work, additional support plans and our flexible and creative approach to the service we provide.  This positively reduces the need for clients to have to move on from our service leaving the familiarity of the staff, building and friends.

‘Along with Lewis Place’s carers support worker, Aileen, we have recently held a workshop for carers to support them in this role. It also offers a forum where carers can support each other with their own ideas.

‘The workshop covers topics such as types of dementia, stress and distress, seeing the person (not the dementia), carer support and environment and design.  Following evaluation of this pilot workshop, we are hoping to offer this to more carers.

‘I have regularly heard comments full of frustration, grief and helplessness from carers who have not been given the knowledge and support to understand the changes in their loved one.  One such comment from a daughter – “That’s not my dad anymore – he’s not in there now” was the catalyst behind the carers workshop.  I wanted to help her see that he was still her dad and she could still be with him.

‘It is impossible to be passionate about dementia care without looking at the bigger picture.  I quickly realised that the work we do is only part of it.  I strongly believe that each and every one of us no matter what our job is can help change the communities we live in and enrich the lives of people living with dementia and their carers.  It may take time and cannot happen overnight but it can be done if the passion and drive of likeminded people continues.

‘With this in mind, our small team of newly signed up Ambassadors at Lewis Place plan to look into working with the local shops, schools etc to help encourage this change.  We are also keen to become part of a forum where we can meet with other local Ambassadors and move forward together.’

Would you like to be a Dementia Ambassador?

Find out more on our website.

Find out more about Promoting Excellence on our website.

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