‘What Matters to You?’ Day 2018

Section: People and NetworksThe ALLIANCEType: News Item Date Published: 11th June 2018

Find out how the Dementia Carer Voices team spent 'What Matters to You?' Day 2018.

Dementia Carer Voices had a great ‘What Matters to You?’ Day this year, meeting students and staff on a tour of NHS Ayrshire and Arran and UWS Ayr Campus. We are so happy to have been given the chance to spend the day with all of you!

Tommy and Matthew began the day by visiting Ayr Hospital where we met Susan Holland (Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Nurse Consultant), Irene Wilson (Person-Centred Care Manager) and Donna Smith (Person-Centred Care Officer). We had a really productive meeting and even discussed potential future partnership work, with plans to come back and speak at Ayr Hospital later in the year.

It was very emotional to see our You Can Make a Difference campaign’s very first pledge tree, which is still the centrepiece of Ayr Hospital’s staff canteen four years after it was first unveiled. The tree was launched with our friends Fiona McQueen (Chief Nursing Officer for Scotland), Derek Barron, Janice McAllister and Lynne McLaughlin following a series of events with NHS AAA.

We then travelled with Susan to the University of the West of Scotland’s Ayr Campus where we met Alison Toner (Lecturer in Mental Health Nursing) before attending the unveiling of UWS’ new pledge tree. The tree will give students and staff the opportunity to reflect on what they can do to make a difference for people living with dementia.

We hope that it will encourage values based reflective practice. It will provide a place where students can come back and look at their pledges to remind themselves of who they are and why they wanted to become a nurse in the first place. We know the impact this can have, having met three final-year student nurses at the launch of the new tree who told us that they had recently looked back at the pledges they had made in their first year at university, to remind themselves of how they had felt at the beginning of their course.

The tree was designed by UWS Digital Art graduate Michelle Logan who donated her skill, craft and time, whilst the wood was provided by Hope Homes.

Michelle told us that ‘the thing that has surprised me is that its really made me think about myself, and that there’s a lot more people worse off than you. It’s hopefully going to inspire the students here at UWS. The tree may not grow, but the inspiration from the tree will never stop growing. And hopefully, the love will never stop growing either.’

We’ve attached a picture of the tree below and we think you’ll agree that it looks absolutely amazing.

Our tour then moved on to Crosshouse Hospital where we were introduced to some incredible staff. We began by meeting Pauline Murray in the ICU department. She spoke about two women who had recently lost their husband and brother. When they were asked what mattered to them, they said that the staff had provided great support to them but the chairs in the waiting room had been very uncomfortable. They decided to raise funds and make a donation to the ward, so that anyone else waiting on news about their loved ones would at least be able to do so in comfort. To think of other people under such difficult personal circumstances is really inspirational and says a lot about the kind of people they were. We are very honoured to have been able to meet them.

We were then introduced to Wendy Whiteford in Ward 5D, who spoke about the changes her ward had made since she had become Charge Nurse. She told us about the ward’s new Gratitude Jar, word charts they had displayed on the walls to represent what is important to staff and families, and their regular music and movement sessions at 2 o’clock every day. Encouragingly, ‘What Matters to You?’ boards had been placed above every person’s bed in the ward too.

In Ward 3E we met Christine Sommerville who shared stories about ‘What Matters to You?’ conversations in action. She spoke about how staff had asked families about their loved ones’ favourite music to make their stay in hospital as comfortable as possible. In some cases, music had even been used in the treatment of people staying in the ward.

Christine also told us about the importance of people’s surroundings when they are in hospital. We were shown the warm new corridors as you come into the ward, which were decorated with pictures of landmarks that are meaningful to people and which tell a story of Ayrshire. You can see photos of these below.

We finished the day in glorious sunshine waving off the dementia dog walk, which was great to see. We have been really impressed by the role pets can play in care, alongside their ability to reduce loneliness and isolation. It was a fitting end to the day.

‘We would like to thank everyone at Ayr Hospital, UWS’ Ayr Campus and Crosshouse Hospital for treating us so well.’

‘And thanks so much for helping us to celebrate ‘What Matters to You?’ Day 2018! Hearing the real-life stories of how patients are being included in meaningful ‘What Matters to You?’ conversations, and the huge difference students and staff are making for people living with dementia, we couldn’t think of a better way to have spent the day. Statistics and strategies have their place, but real-life stories are what make the biggest impact on people.’

Matthew Hilferty, Dementia Carer Voices

‘I think both Matthew and I travelled home feeling truly inspired. ‘What Matters to You?’ sits at the heart of our project. Seeing ‘What Matters to You?’ conversations first-hand confirms that taking the time to ask and listen to what matters truly gives you the tools to make a difference.’

‘We both feel truly privileged to have spent the day with such inspirational people.’

Tommy Whitelaw, Dementia Carer Voices

Dementia Carer Voices would like to thank Susan Holland, Irene Wilson, Donna Smith, Michelle Logan, Pauline Murray, Clare Brennan, Wendy Whiteford, Christine Sommerville, the Person-Centred team at Ayr Hospital, Wilma White, Ruth Slessor and Eileen D’Agostino at Crosshouse Hospital for everything you did for us on the day.

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