In 2014, East Sutherland was chosen by the Scottish Government as a test site for the 8 Pillars Model of Community Support. After two years of testing, the project has now concluded with results presented at a conference in Inverness on 23rd August. To find out more about the 8 Pillars Model of Community Support see our dedicated page.
The testing of the 8 Pillars in East Sutherland was a joint collaboration between NHS Highland, Alzheimer Scotland and DFC. The report-out event highlighted some of the progress made and challenges faced during the test.
The event was opened by Michael Perera, Community Mental Health Services Manager of NHS Highland and Chair of the 8 Pillars Steering Committee. David Alston, Chair of NHS Highland, spoke of the Spanish-artist Francisco Goya and, in particular, his painting ‘Aún aprendo’ or ‘I am Still Learning’ in respect of the 8 Pillars aims and how this is taken forward in the future.
The former Dementia Practice Coordinator, Lynda Forrest, described the efforts that were made to gather the thoughts, experiences and concerns of carers of local people with dementia. One of the most notable findings from this work was the recommendation that groups offering support shouldn’t just wait for them to ask for help, but should step in before crisis point is reached.
Sarah Muir, Project Lead for Veterans First Point, presented a timeline of events that led to the introduction of an interactive screen at the Helmsdale Well-being Hub. From a simple tweet about the chances of getting someone in to do some training locally, the project progressed through social media engagement with people with dementia and others and now onto a plan to introduce interactive screens to four further locations within East Sutherland and the surrounding area. The plan is to use the screens to aid communication between all five locations as well as services in Inverness.
Ann Pascoe described the role of DFC in the project and the work that is being done on the ground. Using positive case studies to highlight the impact of the work being done, Ann provided the community perspective. Michael Perera offered the perspective of NHS Highland on the work that has been done and the impact they have seen in the area of mental health. Patricia Howie from NHS Education for Scotland showcased what is now on offer to support promoting excellence across the 8 Pillar Model on a national level.
Catriona Watt, a Partner from Anderson Strathern, worked closely with DFC on the ethics around the use of GPS devices for people with dementia and explained the legalities behind it.
Ruth Mantle, Dementia Nurse Consultant for NHS Highland, described the learning from the test site, and in particular a presentation given in the Highlands by Dr Al Power from the USA, in relation to therapeutic interventions and recognising the underlying causes of some behaviours. The message that intervention should address the causes rather than the behaviours was a real take-away from Ruth’s presentation.
Sutherland District Manager Lorraine Coe and Lynda Forrest co-presented on the role of the Dementia Practice Coordinator in a rural setting. The testing had highlighted the need for the post to be carried out by somebody with good all-round knowledge and not someone who only specialises in one area. Lynda described how her role has encompassed a variety of tasks, including booking appointments, knowing who to speak to when a problem needed to be solved, and being able to build a relationship of trust with local people with dementia and their families.
Douglas Philips, Team Lead for Dementia at Focus on Dementia (part of Healthcare Improvement Scotland), reported back on findings from across Scotland presented at a national evaluation meeting earlier in the month. The key messages nationally were; that systems need to be ready for change in respect of resources and their impact, and sustainability; the importance of the role of the Dementia Practice Coordinator; the value of investment in knowledge; how essential it is to secure carer input and provide support; and the emphasis on therapeutic interventions that have made a difference.
Mr Philips also gave an overview of the focus of Scotland’s third Dementia Strategy, due to be launched later this year.
DFC would like to thank all who attended the event and have supported the project or contributed to it over the past two years. DFC’s next steps now will be to consider the legacy that will be left following the great work that has been done.
Presentations from the event are available on our Presentations page.