WHAT WE'VE LEARNED SO FAR
At the half-way point of the Building Capacity Project, we produced an evaluation report that summarized our findings about the implementation process for the project’s first phase (Fall 2019 to Spring 2021). Because of the pandemic we have not been able to move ahead as quickly as envisioned, and engaging people with lived experience remains a challenge. Nonetheless, we have made significant progress and have gained a number of learnings. This backgrounder highlights the key findings from our Partners in Thunder Bay and Vancouver that we hope can inspire more potential Partners to become involved during the third round of Implementation, and we hope can help us sustain our efforts beyond the formal end of the project in March 2023.
From our Thunder Bay Partners we learned some key principles for engaging people with lived experience, including:
the importance of taking time to do the engagement (the Northwest Dementia Working Group evolved over a number of years, drawing on people who were at the point in their dementia journey where they were ready to “give back”.
the importance of having people living well “in the space” as role models (this could help others who wanted to participate but may have been scared or put off by the stigma of dementia).
the importance of relationships (the relationships are as important as “the work”).
From our Westside Hub Partners in Vancouver we learned about the process of innovation as Dementia Ventures Partners implemented new initiatives. This included:
drawing on existing resources (which can get around the problem of trying to do something “off the side of the desk”).
looking for “small wins” (and not getting overwhelmed by trying to do too much).
staying flexible (some of our smaller partners we more able to move ahead during the pandemic, drawing on grassroots, neighbourhood relationships).
using a “ready, fire, aim” approach (not trying to have everything figured out, but moving ahead on something and then reflecting).
the importance of having a champion at a high level of the organization.
Finally, we learned about the value of the Westside Seniors Hub structure itself:
for “opening doors” to Partner that are ready to move forward on an idea for making the community more inclusive of people living with dementia.
for creating a network for learning together, “being part of something bigger” and making a collective impact.