Being there

The focus for Upstream is to work with, and learn from, people affected by dementia. We know that creating a space and some time to allow people to talk about what's important in their lives can be a rewarding experience - hopefully for everyone involved.  So, we're developing tools and formats for gently guided conversations about travel and transport - and hopefully capturing some of the stories and insights that arise along the way. 

And we're pleased with how it's going so far. We're trying different approaches and tweaking ideas along the way and, while we never really know quite how a session is going to unfold, we always come away from a workshop with more insights, thoughts and ideas. 

The thing is, we can show you the pictures that were drawn and the comments that were written, but to get a real sense of what's important, of what really matters, you have to be there. And if you had been there yesterday, in Aberdeen, you would have heard the stories, the laughter and the banter and you would have experienced the care and support that people affected by dementia were showing each other.  

We've also been planning to invite people from the transport industry into these conversations although we thought it might take a while for this to happen. But luckily, thanks to local relationships already being built by ACVO and Alzheimer Scotland, we were joined yesterday by David from First Aberdeen. He was soon inundated with questions and thoughts and ideas - but in a good way! He reflected afterwards that sometimes the small things can make the biggest difference. He also wondered about who he could bring back with him next time - it's important for other colleagues to be part of the conversation. Of course, he could take the notes and questions back with him, but to really get a sense of what's important, you had to be there.

This is an important part of the Upstream approach - not to necessarily find 'solutions', but to create opportunities for inclusive, friendly conversations that allow challenges to be described, ideas to be exchanged, new ways of thinking to emerge and then to mull it all over together with some tea and cake.

This isn't about creating a list of things to fix, it's about building a shared understanding of what it's like to travel with dementia and how we might work together to make things better.  We're only going to do that if we take the time to be there, to sit down and talk it through - together.