As 30 May – 4 June is Dementia Awareness Week in Scotland, Karen Lawson, Programme Lead for our Pioneering Collaborative Leadership Programme, wanted to share her own experiences of dementia care, and reflect on what this means for how we can approach public services in Scotland.
“I know your Dad isn’t really with us.”
These were the words my cousin wrote to me in relation to my dad and his dementia. Of course, I knew what she meant, but it doesn’t really convey the complexity of what life is like for my dad or the changing relationship of those who are close to someone with dementia.
This is Dementia Awareness week, so I thought I would share a personal story that I hope conveys that each person who has dementia is unique and needs support and care tailored to their individual strengths, interests and needs.
“We cannot wait for great visions from great people, for they are in short supply. It is up to us to light our own small fires in the darkness. ” Charles Handy
Recent research and reports (21st Century Public Servant, and Rethinking Pubic Services) indicate a paradigm shift in public service: one characterised by services co-designed with citizens and with a far greater emphasis on experimentation, improvisation, cross boundary collaborations, and where public service workers “engage with citizens in a way that expresses their shared humanity and pooled expertise” (Needham & Mangan, 2014).
Does this resonate with you and your experience of public service? Whilst there may be consensus on a more human service, the transition can be fraught and small fires of change can be extinguished before they have the chance to burn brightly. However, we also know that there are lots of small fires that are having a positive impact on public service: fires worth spreading.
The Fire Starter Festival provides an opportunity to explore this shift in paradigm. It is unique in that it is being co-produced by services themselves, illuminating the ways in which we are already changing: the small fires that have been kindled; the learning about how these are impacting on professional identity; as well as considering the bonfires of practices and procedures that no longer serve us well. The aim is to inquire into what is happening, as it happens, with openness and curiosity, and a willingness to use the learning to shape the future of public service.
The festival launches on the 23rd January with an exploration of what is emerging for the 21st Century Public Servant and public services – a more human service? There will be an opportunity to hear about the underpinning research from the authors of the report and from many services who will be sharing the creative, disruptive and innovative ways in which they are transforming themselves.