Podcast Penny’s reflections on her time recording with The Filo Project
What was your general impression of the two groups you visited?
Each group had its own feel, which reflected what I saw as the essence of the Filo Project, making it people centred, taking into account the clients’ different personalities and interests. There was a structure to the day, everyone knew what to expect, but there was also flexibility within that to follow unpredicted avenues of chat or look at books or articles found in the moment. The hosts created a calm environment and a feeling of being among friends. They sat with clients and had time to talk, making sure all felt equally valued.
Was there anything that surprised you, or you hadn’t expected?
I found the clients so talkative and accepting of my being there from the second I arrived. I did not expect them to be so receptive to my presence or to having a microphone close to them, but they all chatted to me with great enthusiasm.
Was there a particular highlight of your visit?
Host Sharon received a bouquet of flowers and immediately involved all the group in deciding how to get them arranged. Collectively, they opted for two people to open the wrapping, cut the stems and place the flowers in a vase. They worked together to do something that they may not get to do very often now, with no question over their ability to get the job done.
I also enjoyed seeing how much the clients loved coming. They all talked about the companionship and being with others who they felt understood what it was like to have memory problems. One client even talked about how it gave carers at home a break and how important that was.
I thoroughly enjoyed talking to Libby and Liz, who are so insightful and have, through their model, provided small hubs of warmth and welcome for people living with dementia across Devon and into Somerset.
What do you think are the particular strengths of the Filo model of care?
Small groups that cater to the individual and can make a person feel valued is what I consider to be one of the most important strengths of the Filo Project. I love that there is time to talk to people, to gently discover and delve into topics that mean something to each person. Communication is so important to someone’s wellbeing and sadly, within larger organisations, other types of day care or hospitals, staff are so stretched that this element can be lost.
There are so many added benefits to what is provided by the Filo Project too, like ensuring a nutritional home-cooked meal, providing respite for carers, giving clients a renewed purpose. I am sure, while the details of the day itself may be forgotten, the feeling that something good has happened, the social element, will remain with people once they return home.
Were there any specific insights you gained?
I understand even more how important it is to find sociable social care for a person living with dementia. As a carer for my mum, who has mixed dementia, I am constantly researching how I can best support her and what I can put in place to help her continue to live independently. Often this is something I feel I am doing in isolation, with no one official to ask or anyone to compare notes with. To be able to meet Libby and Liz and some of the team has given me a real boost and validates that providing my mum with as many social outlets as possible is the right way forward. The Filo Project model should be the standard for every county in the UK.