The 14th UK Dementia Congress ran at historic Doncaster Racecourse on 5th, 6th and 7th November 2019 attended by over 700 people over the 2 days. Organised by the Journal of Dementia Care, in partnership with the University of Worcester Association for Dementia Studies and the Alzheimer’s Society, there were over 150 different presentations and workshops addressing topics ranging from arts, use of technology, positive risk-taking in care homes and stress and distress through to more reflective and interactive sessions on sex/intimacy in care homes and communication in later stages of dementia. Two special interest streams ran on end of life care innovation in acute hospital settings.
On the first afternoon, the Congress got off to a lively start with the traditional open debate on “environmental lies” in dementia care settings. It was a hotly contested issue and delegates debated the merits or otherwise of environmental lies in care homes, such as fake windows with painted views or ‘bus stops’. “As a person with dementia when I go into a care home I do not want them to lie, either in the environment they create or in their actions” said Keith Oliver, who opposed the motion that deceptive décor can play an important role in delivering person-centred care. There was a resounding victory for those opposing the motion, who had 54% of the audience behind them by the end of the debate compared with 33% at the start.
The following two days of plenaries, parallel sessions, interactive workshops and special interest sessions provided a wide range of stimulating topics and an impressive array of expert speakers. There was a dynamic exhibition with plenty of time to network and socialise, as well as make new connections from all over the UK and beyond.
The opening plenary session on the Wednesday, chaired by Jeremy Hughes from Alzheimer’s Society, focused on technology and was led by people living with dementia from the DEEP (Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Network) and family carers from tide (together in dementia everyday). This was followed by a presentation on how technology can help people affected by dementia, by Professor of Machine Intelligence, Payam Barnaghi, University of Surrey. Giving a Tom Kitwood Memorial Address that perfectly reflected the values of Kitwood himself, Professor Steven Sabat, Georgetown University, USA, spoke about the central importance of the subjective experience of dementia and its absence from the biomedical view of the condition.
On the Thursday there were two keynote addresses. Firstly, Dr Adrian Ivinson from UK Dementia Research Institute gave a presentation on “Can we really cure dementia? An update on the latest science and experimental medicine approaches and an honest assessment of where we stand”. In the afternoon, there was a main hall session on “The experience of dementia in culturally diverse communities” led by Dr Sahdia Parveen, University of Bradford. Congress extras included book and product launches, A Million Memories dance performance, yoga sessions and film showings. The exhibition also included the impressive “Dementia Banners”, which had been designed and produced as part of the ‘A life more ordinary’ project and which are currently on tour throughout UK galleries.
Congress concluded with a glittering gala dinner for the National Dementia Care Awards – with finalists and winners celebrating and dancing the night away!
The Journal of Dementia Care is indebted to a great number of people and organisations who play important roles in shaping the event and we look forward to seeing you next year!