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Conference highlights living well with dementia

Healthcare professionals joined non-clinical colleagues to discuss the latest developments in dementia services at a conference in Bournemouth. 

Colten Care’s leadership academy event, Connecting Through Dementia 2024, brought together 80 attendees for a day of presentations, discussions and workshops.

The main theme, across the agenda, was the importance of ‘connecting physically, emotionally and spontaneously with people who live with dementia so that they feel valued, cared for and loved’.

connecting through dementia team

The conference, at the Fusion Building on Bournemouth University’s Wallisdown campus, attracted nurses, carers, specialists in dementia therapies, and colleagues such as training managers, chefs and care companions who work alongside clinical teams.

“It was about how we all connect with those living with dementia and their familes,” said organiser and Colten Care Operations Manager Peter Doyle. “We focused on what outstanding clinical care and the wider mix of care services should look like in the context of enabling people to live well.

“My aim for the day was for everyone to have one key takeaway to help them grow in knowledge, understanding and insight and for them to connect with one another to develop in this area.”

Among practical sessions geared to appeal to different learning styles was a workshop on design ideas and the modelling of features in a dementia community. 

A key highlight of the day was a question-and-answer session with presenters Peter Berry and Deb Bunt, co-authors of a book charting a year in Peter’s life after he was diagnosed with early-onset dementia aged 50. 

The Suffolk-based pair discussed valuable insights from their book ‘Slow Puncture: Living Well With Dementia’ and how they have celebrated what you can achieve rather than feeling limited by how it can impact day-to-day life. 

One example was a successful 350-mile cycling challenge through four counties, which involved Peter often leading the way on a penny-farthing.

Colten Care attendees at the conference included team members from the provider’s five dementia care communities: Linden House in Lymington; St Catherines View in Winchester; Fernhill in Longham; The Aldbury in Poole; and Newstone House in Sturminster Newton.

Experts who spoke included Kay Gibson, Colten Care’s Admiral Nurse, who has evolved a company-wide dementia care strategy since her appointment in 2016. 

Kay’s input has benefited residents, families and communities around Colten Care’s 21 nursing homes, including the five dementia-specific care settings.

Also giving presentations on the latest thinking around dementia care were Rachel Johnstone, Dementia UK Business Development Officer, and Fiona Pritchard, Colten Care’s Music & Arts Partner.

Fiona discussed a musical collaboration she has led with multiple care homes which was recorded and made into a short film. The purpose was to demonstrate the impact of music.

The conference ended with an expert panel discussion chaired by Dr Chloe Bradwell, Postdoctoral Researcher in the Centre for Dementia Research at Leeds Beckett University. 

Among the panel members were Helen Hyde, a relative of a Colten Care resident, and Anne Ward Ongley of the dementia carers’ charity TIDE, Together in Dementia Everyday. 

Elaine Farrer, Chief Operating Officer at Colten Care, who was also on the panel and gave the closing address at the event, said:

“This was a thought-provoking and highly informative conference that gave attendees the opportunity to learn from each other and share best practice.”

For more information on dementia care at Colten Care and to connect with Admiral Nurse Kay Gibson, visit

To view a short film about Peter Berry and Deb Bunt’s cycling challenge and Peter’s dementia diagnosis, visit

August LTD
Grahame Gardner
Mr Trax Curtain & Blind Solutions
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