New dementia tool launched by Age Scotland

New dementia tool launched by Age Scotland

(from left) Dina Roggero from About Dementia, Shona Cowie from The Village Storytelling Centre, Dr Kainde Manji, head of dementia at Age Scotland, and Helen Mill, executive director of The Village Storytelling Centre

A pioneering initiative using storytelling to encourage people to open up about their own experiences of living with dementia has been launched by Age Scotland’s dementia policy forum, About Dementia.

The new Storytelling Resource is aimed at people who run groups and organisations working with people living with dementia.

It is hoped participants using the resource will open up about any challenges they might be facing, such as circumstances with carers, finances, or issues in the community relating to transport or accessibility.

About Dementia has co-created the resource with The Village Storytelling Centre and it has taken two years to trial and develop the package.

The programme was officially launched at the Scottish Storytelling Centre, in Edinburgh.

The launch event was packed to capacity with people with a shared interest in supporting people living with dementia, from representatives of organisations and community groups to health professionals and those with lived experience.

Interactive activities gave people a taster of what is included in the free resource, which contains six workshops and all the materials needed to run them.

Through a series of scenarios, the tool encourages participants to connect with their own experiences and offers a safe space to share as much or as little information as they like, on their terms.

The workshops present fictional scenarios, based on real-life events faced by people with dementia, and participants are encouraged to give the characters advice to resolve these challenges.

In doing so, participants can choose to share similar experiences – helping those who run the groups to identify service needs which might not have already been recognised.

For example, one session might introduce a character called Jim who has a new carer who made him a cup of tea with milk and two sugars. Jim is upset because he drinks his tea black and without sugar and now he wonders how he will ever build up trust with her when she does not even ask how he takes his tea.

Workshop participants would be asked to advise the character of what steps he should take next and write them on a “postcard” to Jim.

While running pilot workshops for the resource, About Dementia found many participants would comment on similar situations they had experienced like Jim’s and could relate with the advice offered by other participants.

Themes for the sessions include finances, hobbies and activities, human rights, care and support, and community issues.

Feedback from the workshops will then be submitted to About Dementia, who will use it to provide an increased understanding and awareness of what needs to change in the dementia policy landscape.

Dr Kainde Manji, head of dementia at Age Scotland, said: “Listening to and including the voices of people living with dementia is absolutely central to good policy making.

“Storytelling is a proven method to enable this to happen – it allows people living with dementia to engage with familiar situations at one-step removed.

“This enables us to talk about challenging topics without personalising them to an individual.

“The new resource will ensure that community groups can facilitate meaningful policy-based conversations with their members, in an accessible way.”

Helen Mill, executive director at The Village Storytelling Centre, said: “At the Village Storytelling Centre we believe that everyone has stories worth sharing and that Storytelling has the power to change lives.

“This project is a perfect example of that belief because it places value on the real life stories of people with lived experience of dementia and ensures that those stories shape policy and services that affect their lives.

“It has been an absolute pleasure to work alongside the About Dementia team to develop this resource.”

For more information on the Storytelling Resource, or to register your interest in receiving the free materials, email:

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