Getting ready to discuss digital devices

Mindtech MinD workshop – 8th March 2018

Dementia is an area of mental health that I have not had so much awareness of, and so the chance to co-facilitate a group specifically designing for the memory problems associated with dementia was a really positive opportunity. The brief for the MinD project worked across several areas that I have professional interest and experience in. Firstly, digital technology (I worked in digital marketing for nearly 8 years) as a solution to aiding with memory and other executive functioning challenges. Secondly, the products and devices that use this technology and how they can be best designed to aid with memory issues for those with dementia (I also have a degree in 3D design).

The day was well organised and facilitated by Julie, including a last-minute panic when my car broke down – a taxi was efficiently ordered and paid for the project, which was hugely appreciated as I have difficulties travelling on public transport. It made me feel like my participation was really valued. Comprehensive information in writing was presented in good time which helps me manage my own anxieties around not knowing what is going to happen.

Recording thoughts from the MinD workshop,
The event itself was friendly, intimate and personal. I had the chance to speak to a number of individuals like Nancy and Norman that reminded me of the importance of intergenerational contact as a source of comfort and knowledge. My own nanna died last year and talking to Nancy, who was only seven years younger than she was, about how she met her husband, reminded me so much of how much I missed my grandparents. They were such a source of strength and humour in my own life that I am going to try to make some time to do some befriending work.

Julie ran the day itself with a light touch, just enough guidance about what she needed and expected from the day, but with plenty of leeways for us to let our personalities shine through and connect with the Experts by Experience. Coffee and cake were plentiful and everyone was very relaxed, both to look and listen to.

Learning more about patient and public involvement at the Institute of Mental Health
The ideation work was emotional but guided by direction. Julie helping people to sum up their own thoughts and let everyone take a turn. I was happy taking notes and drawing prompts in response to individual contributions, but Julie asked me the same questions, demonstrating a commitment to hearing every voice. I am able to empathise with those with memory problems as I experience difficulties with memory and other EF relating to being on the autistic spectrum, so hoped that some of my comments would be of use.

The day finished with an insightful talk by Institute of Mental Health staff on the MinD project and participatory research more generally. Lunch was provided and unfortunately, I had to leave early and so miss the afternoon session, but hope to be able to take part in future events and also to read any outcomes from the day itself.

A very interesting, thoughtful and insightful experience.