Working with Dementia Friendly East Lothian

When we started off the project we said we'd be working 'across Scotland' and these first few weeks have been spent talking to groups that we might work with on a regular basis to learn more about travelling with dementia in different locations.

We've had some great conversations and ideas are blossoming (far) north of Edinburgh, but more to follow on that later. Yesterday Steve and I headed east to Haddington to meet the good folk involved in Dementia Friendly East Lothian, a growing network of activities and organisations across the area.

Upstream is going to be part of this exciting movement, working with Sue Northrop.  If you don't know Sue, her Twitter bio 'Woman on a mission to make the world a better place, starting with making Scotland a great place to grow old' is a pretty accurate summary!  We're very lucky to have Sue's support and through her incredible network we've already made some fantastic connections. 

We were invited along to The DFEL learning event yesterday to try out some workshop ideas and learn from an amazing gathering of people living with dementia, their carers, professionals, related organisations and support groups.

Professor James Mitchell chaired the event along with Sue and we heard stories of dementia friendly activity from the various towns across the region.  Most of the day was spent in conversation though, working in groups to look at issues such as discovering local activities and support, developing ideas for an area-wide plan and, in our case, looking at getting around East Lothian.

It was great having some dedicated time to talk transport in a friendly and creative environment. We asked people to introduce themselves to each other using travel as a conversation starter...

We asked them to describe their journey to the conference that morning and they became very artistic...

And then we asked them to have a think about what's good and what could be better ....


... and they came up with lots of interesting thoughts including:

I wonder why...

  • bus companies have to change routes - unfamiliar routes can be confusing
  • the printing is not larger on tickets
  • the signage is not better

Imagine if...

  • everyone smiled
  • someone was there to guide people
  • outgoing and return (tickets) were colour coded

This was a first go, so perhaps we'll tweak the questions and presentation in the future but it was great to have such enthusiastic conversations and some ideas to ponder. Thanks to everyone that came along and helped on the day - we're looking forward to working much more with you soon.