Reflections on missing those not met yet

This week would have seen the launch of the BOLD project in Ayrshire and Arran. We had planned to hold the first Taste of Leadership session on Tuesday 5th May.

Last November I attended Life Changes Trust Community and Dementia Conference at Ayr Racecourse and saw, first-hand, the wonderful array of work and activities that take place in the Ayrshire and Arran area for people living with dementia. I have no doubt that if Covid-19 did not exist, this week would have seen the emergence third strong cohort of people to the BOLD project; people who are passionate about making a positive contribution to dementia world and who are keen to find creative ways to develop their leadership skills in this world.

I was looking forward to meeting and working alongside the people from Ayrshire and Arran. I had already discussed the BOLD project with several people doing some fabulous and creative work in the area and they were excited about BOLD coming to Ayrshire and keen to know and learn more about it.

I find myself this Saturday morning wondering who else might have been keen to come along to our Taste of Leadership session. I wonder who the future BOLD leaders would be, the bonds and connections that would have been made between those that came along and I wonder what they are doing right now.

Whilst my original work schedule would have seen me at the Taste of Leadership workshop, I found myself planning a regular online dementia singing group for my local area through my parish church. As I was doing so, I was reminded of the number of different people who are continuing to find ways to support the flourishing of people living with dementia in these changing and challenging circumstances. People are finding ways to connect through technology, phone calls, dropping off food and prescriptions and gathering and delivering different activities for people to engage in from home.

Listening to the dementia diaries I see that some people living with dementia are finding ways to meet via regular zoom chats and there is an emergence of other social groups and meetings moving to a virtual platform. We are seeing a tremendous effort from care home staff who are working tirelessly not only to support the physical health of people living with dementia but also their emotional and mental health as family members and friends are not able to visit just now.

As I think about the people that I would have met this week at the Taste of Leadership workshop, I find myself feeling a mixture of emotions. I feel sad that we have not yet come to know each other better, to share our experiences and learn together. I feel sad for the bonds and connections that it has not been possible to make. I am missing people that I do not yet know.

However, I also feel encouraged, heartened, and hopeful as I think of and see all the new ways people are finding to continue to make a positive difference and to encourage flourishing as we live with dementia.

Whilst I am very aware of the pain and challenge that this time of lockdown is bringing, I am certain that as we all work our way through this in different and creative ways we will be able to learn a great deal from each other and from those of who continue to make an extraordinary difference in the lives of those living with dementia.