We ran a number of experimental intergenerational projects across Kent – thank you to everyone who took part in them. Along the way people have told us what is most important to them. We hope these top tips will be useful when you run your own intergenerational projects.
Think and Do:
Get appropriate references and examples of previous work for each participating organisation which prove they can work in a collaborative way.
Think about the level of understanding of dementia that people need to have ‘before’ meeting people living with dementia – this is for all ages. Consider which awareness sessions will be appropriate for your audience e.g. Dementia Friends sessions, Dementia Diaries and learning resource pack, or formal training. Remember the content and the way it is delivered must be engaging to hold peoples’ attention and inspire them to learn, directly involve people living and working with dementia and carers where possible.
The project cannot be predetermined before the training / familiarisation has taken place to gauge enthusiasm and level of ability.
Discuss and write down the values/interests that you all share – you may wish to do this as separate groups and then come together. You may wish to share photos to introduce people before meeting. You can use props – like magazines – to encourage conversations. It is preferable to enable relationships to develop naturally rather than push people together.
Discuss together what people can do, what people want to do, what people can’t do and what people won’t do! How will you make sure everyone in the project feels comfortable and respected? Remember everyone is different. Some people may not wish to discuss this in public.
Discuss and write down the motivations of everyone involved – no stone unturned.
Consider what paperwork is required e.g. Duke of Edinburgh registration, CRB checks – do not get bogged down with the paperwork. If it is too tedious make a new form.
Find ways to involve everyone e.g. choosing background music, refreshments, writing articles, making posters, behind or in front of a camera
Community facilitation skills essential from participating organisations – keep records of collaborative decision making – take photos (with consent) of people working and making decisions together and keep records of who, how and why a decision is made. Set up a direct line of communication to a senior person for anyone to contact if there is an unresolvable issue.
Ensure that all organisations and participants agree and are clear on the purpose of the project and write it down – keep revisiting the purpose and progress so far throughout the project every time people meet up. Identify project leads, including people with dementia where possible and students, and ensure the views of everyone are presented accurately and fairly.
Be realistic in what you can achieve with the resources available (time, finance, people) – manage expectations about time; try to under promise and over achieve.
Keep talking to each other. Discuss how relationships between organisations and people are going to work – who will communicate to everyone what is happening and how – how will EVERYONE contribute in a way they are comfortable with? Think about meeting location and format, language and tone of voice, adaptations, background noise and transport. If plans change they must be communicated to everyone at the earliest possible time. Build in reflection time, with participants, away from the workshop setting – find the right mode of communication to ensure ongoing feedback informs the next workshop / project activity.
Discuss how the project will make a genuine difference
Discuss the unexpected and prepare for it – some surprises are better than others!
Ask everyone to take part in recording the story about how the project happened – performance, scrapbook, report, film, webpage. Use the final product to celebrate and recognise achievement – the best projects are when everyone enjoys themselves. Always attribute and say thank you to people who have helped out in any way.
Ask everyone to talk about the project, be proud of taking part – word of mouth is the cheapest and most effective way to publicise a project. Remember that you cannot see dementia – be mindful and respectful at all times.
Always say thank you and recognise people who are participating in a voluntary capacity – ensure people are fed, watered and all expenses are paid on time.
WITH not TO
Don’t be rude
Don’t be patronising
Don’t judge people
Don’t steal ideas without attribution
Don’t talk over people
Don’t talk to adults in a childish way
Do not assume people cannot understand you because they have memory problems
The process is as important as the end result – its the taking part that counts