Conferences in dementia can be good fun.
For the conference organiser, conferences can be a good way of showcasing recent policy contributions and to promote their brand as a fundraising organisation whilst raising money at the same time. Delegates can ‘mingle’, or ‘network’, seamlessly meeting each other in professional and social disciplines.
At worst, they are open to extreme nepotism, of the same people being invited to give the same talks to largely the same audiences. This croneyism can be exacerbated with entities such as local authorities or the NHS pay for the ticket on behalf of the delegates. The business model is made complete where people can nominate themselves for awards which they can win, meriting a place at a gala dinner for an award he or she can win or lose. But no matter, being nominated is good publicity for all, including care home chains.
At best, conferences arguably ease a degree of knowledge sharing and transfer not easily possible through blogs or papers. However, they disenfranchise people who do not have the time or resources to attend.
Some of the prices are completely eye watering.
Look at this event, “Strengthening dementia services” in Melbourne.
Speakers, often including people with dementia to tick the box for inclusion, are frequently not paid for their time, though might be have travel and accommodation to and from London via Australia paid for a for short talk. Remember this is dementia we’re talking about, where the NHS and social care funding (and many staff) are on their knees.
A major theme in policy about services is person-centred care; this is respecting the person and individual, rather than as a objectified recipient of care.
This is another example of a dementia happen yet to happen where communication in a person-centred way will be important.
I had a discussion of this on Facebook with three others (A, B and C; denoted by purple, red and green squares in the timeline below). I have anonymised their identity for the legitimate purpose of mitigating against breach of confidentiality.
The issue is whether the billing should read: “Person living with dementia (invited)”.
Discussion as follows.
There are other ways of democratising conferences, such as live streaming conferences in live time.
I attended this last year, not a ‘conference’ but a ‘meet up’, with true co-production in the meaning of it (i.e. not marketing but social organisation); and I can strongly recommend this.