Happy Birthday!

Today is The Red Shed Projects 3rd Birthday! We have benefited over 100 people who’s lives are affected by dementia, run nearly 300 workshops, grown load’s of veggies and flowers and enjoyed immeasurable amounts of team and biscuits together!! We are so proud that our little garden makes such a big difference and we look forward to continuing the work….

Impact Measurement….

…..What’s the benefit??

With all the time, hard work and funds that go into the daily operation of The Red Shed Project, it is really important to be sure that the what we do is effective and achieves our mission to ‘alleviate isolation and promote wellbeing in people touched by dementia’

We can measure the impact our service by recording various numbers – a quantitative measurement that currently shows a steady increase in participants. We also need to take a qualitative measurement which is normally done through interview, observation and questionnaires. Both measurements are necessary to: – highlight the benefits our participants experience from their time with us. – show funders exactly how their grants and donations are making a difference. – to helps us review what we are doing, to ensure that our work is making a difference.

There are lots of different Impact Measuring tools available, from forms and templates of questions to choosing from a range of faces – 🙂smiley to 🙁glum! However, none of these are very dementia friendly. We needed a way of recording responses that was easy for everyone to engage with, even if your dementia affects your ability to read or your ability to express your feelings or even your capacity for facial recognition.

We have devised a way of using the 5 Ways to Wellbeing as part of the design of our workshops. The 5 Ways have been researched by The New Economics Foundation and is used by lots of organisations including the NHS. The 5 steps are Being Active, Connecting with others, Noticing your surroundings, Giving your time or small acts of kindness and learning. Now, after each session we can record if a participant has experienced any of the 5 Ways and we can do this by observing them if they are unable to articulate themselves.

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A coloured disc can be chosen for each of the 5 Ways and we can then record the results in a pie chart to see how effective the workshops are. The chart below shows that our ‘Lets Get Going’ workshops were particularly effective in getting people connected and learning something new.

So far this has been really useful and a great way to underpin our work. If any other organisations working with people who have dementia would like to give it a go – they are very welcome!

Families, Friends and Fun!

This month we were finally able to open The Red Shed garden gates to our friends and families. It was a great opportunity to show off all our hard work and enjoy the space we’ve created together.

We have wanted to work with younger generations for some time and this was a great introduction to them and us of what can be achieved together.

We are over the moon to be approached by Stevenage Borough Council to look at the possibility of working with them on an intergenerational project next year. The chance to bust some myths about the effects of dementia and to get folk working together on something exciting is….well….very exciting!!

Partnerships, colaborations and Friends.

We have just completed some dementia friendly, croquet sessions at The Red Shed. Our participants were given the opportunity to get together, get active and learn something new. It was great fun and such a boost to everyone’s wellbeing.

The initiative was made possible through our partnership with Active Local – part of Herts Sports Partnership and the generous time of John Noble from the Letchworth Croquet Club. Croquet is a garden sport and we found it to be inclusive and adaptable to peoples abilities – it’s now firmly on the list of activities we can provide at The Red Shed accessible garden.

Part of the success of The Red Shed has been the partnerships and collaborations. We work with Stevenage Borough Council, the Irish Network, AgeUK, Stevenage Rotary, Carers in Herts, local community organisations, Open Art Box, Herts Dementia Network, the local Social Prescribing Team, the Universities of Hertfordshire and Essex…….the list goes on….and the list is varied and diverse.

The last 18 months or so have been challenging for a small organisation like ours and we have come to value our network of contacts and the amazing results that working together can achieve. Not just collaborators and partners but many have become friends of The Red Shed and we truly believe that we can build a more sustainable future with these relationships as a foundation…..oh and a highly trained, keen and competitive croquet team!!

Let’s do Lunch!

Our first event in 2021 – a perfect afternoon of lunch, sunshine and friends.

The most recent lockdown has been lifted and we were finally able to get together. With sunshine, sandwiches and plenty of anti-bac – we were able to enjoy a lovely opportunity for all our Garden Club participants to meet. New friends were made and old friends well met. It was a real antidote to the difficult times everyone has been through in the last year or so.

Everyone’s wellbeing has been affected during the pandemic and many of those who are living with dementia have experienced a decline in both mental and physical health. A fun social event is a great mood lifter – we had lots of requests for more of the same, so fingers crossed for a summer of sunshine….we’re going to be busy!

Caring for carers….

Who carers for Carers – well The Red Shed does. At least for a couple of hours, once a month. Which is a drop in the ocean when you consider the amount of time and support they give to those they care for….but it’s a good start.

From the outset The Red Shed Project has recognised the needs of carers and while they are included in all our Garden Clubs it’s great to be able to offer something just for them.

Following on from our Craft for Carers in August 2019 (check out our blog on 24 July 2019) we have received further funding from Stevenage Community Trust and have now launched our Grow and Care group for Tuesday mornings. It’s a place for carers to meet, chat and share, as well as get involved with some gardening and garden crafts. It’s a safe space where having a moan and getting things off your chest is just as accepted as having a good laugh. Already, participants are sharing ideas and contacts – the value of peer support in incalculable.

We have already nearly reached capacity and it’s not surprising as most carers are really in need of some ‘me time’. Working together is a really good way to get people to talk. It’s also good for your mental wellbeing to be engaged with activities that are meaningful and fun. The whole experience of being in our garden is therapeutic and it’s wonderful to see people leaving a session with a bigger smile and a lighter step.

First week we made up some Kokadoma or Japanese hanging gardens. We have lots more activity plans up our sleeves, including being involved in the design of our garden extension – that will keep everyone busy and eventually an extra space to be still, re-group and feel refreshed.

Beating the Lockdown Blues

It has been such a pleasure to re-open The Red Shed garden gates and dust off the ‘lockdown blues’. Everyone has returned safe and well and we have gained lots of new participants too.

Being outside again, joining in the activities and being together all had immediate and obvious positive effects on our wellbeing.

The safe and supportive environment was a huge help towards getting over the concerns about being outside of again after such a long time.

Now we have a lot of seed to sow and garden to prepare for the year ahead. It’s wonderful to be working together and looking forward to something lovely.

an exciting relaunch

This time last year we were launching our garden club for people who are diagnosed with dementia when they are younger than 65. COVID put a bit of a dampener on our efforts but we have funding in place and the government roadmap allows us to get back together from April – so it seems like a good time for a relaunch.

A dementia diagnosis is difficult to receive at any age and everyone has very individual responses and needs at this time. When you are younger you may still be working, have children at home and dependent on you and it is possibly even more difficult for your friends and family to understand what you are going through.

Our garden club will provide a supportive and understanding space to help people adjust to their changing situation.

Having an Opinion

We are really pleased to have been invited to join in a research project with The University of Hertfordshire.

The Stevenage Dementia Involvement Group aims to provide opportunities for people with experience of dementia to influence dementia research and the planning of new services in Stevenage, Hertfordshire.

The group discussions not only supply the researchers with valuable feedback but The Red Shed is also taking notes so that any ideas can be used to help us to build our service and meet the needs of the people we are working with.

Living with the effects of dementia at home can be isolating. The Red Shed Project try to combat this where ever possible. Being a part of Dementia Involvement group has been a great way of encouraging social engagement – as one of our participants told us…….’I am so pleased at being given the opportunity to be involved with the group and know that my thoughts and feelings are being listened to, and hopeful that this may lead to positive change’.

Reports

Keeping busy, staying connected

Although our dementia garden is closed due to COVID restrictions, we are still delivering activities and keeping in touch with our regular participants at home. It’s really important to stay connected as feelings of isolation are never far away in these difficult times. Our participants are still able to feel the benefits of gardening and getting creative, it’s especially important as the seeds that they are sowing will make sure that our dementia garden is blooming abundant in the summer.

Not just keeping busy but being purposeful is a great way to maintain wellbeing.