“Sitting in a Dementia Friendly Design Masterclass run by Annie Pollock of the Dementia Centre recently, I was thinking about when we feel the need to bring in an expert to support work that we are carrying out.
“Annie is an Architect and Landscape Architect by training, and is currently an Associate Consultant for Hammond Care. Annie has specialised for many years in designing outdoor spaces for older people and those with dementia, and has won several awards for her work. Annie is most definitely an international expert in her field. During the Masterclass she shared some of her research, findings and ideas that can help design truly Dementia Friendly outdoor spaces that offer scope for exploration, safe navigation and interaction with nature and each other, but there were many others in the room too with expert knowledge in their own area.
“Experts come in all shapes and sizes: international researchers can lead the development of what is possible and push everyone’s boundaries; local leads and subject experts can know the detailed ins and outs of one specific topic; community links can be the experts in local capacity building. You, however, are the expert in your setting! You and the team you work in are best placed to understand what works for you.
“CAPA uses the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Model for Improvement as the tool to show both improvement in practice and learning through reflection. Learning from the work you do and what works best for your care setting lets you show the expertise you already have and support individual and team development. It’s vital to get support and skills advice from an expert when embarking on a new idea but you may already be that expert for someone else.
“Linking with other providers, sharing your experiences, mentoring others and publicising great stories are all ways of sharing expertise and building confidence in the sector to see the skills we already have. Never be worried about asking for expert help, but always remember that you are an expert too.”