Blog: Why I joined Dementia Action Alliance

Thursday 16 February 2017

Beth Britton

National DAA member Beth Britton charts her motivation to join Dementia Action Alliance

August 2013 seems a long time ago, and in terms of how my work has grown and evolved it is, not to mention my personal life — I’m now a mum! But that month will always be significant for a particular milestone — I became a National Member of the Dementia Action Alliance.

I joined the DAA because I believe passionately in the aims and objectives of the Alliance — its founding principles are all based around the 7 ‘I Statements’. I felt the Alliance was a perfect springboard to network with likeminded individuals and organisations, and because of my personal background (my father had vascular dementia for 19 years), I wanted to ensure that the voice of personal experience was championed.

It's important to attend DAA events 

In 2012, when I began the work I do now, I realised from attending various dementia-related events that the ‘dementia world’, for want of a better way of putting it, can be an uncomfortably competitive place, with people offering different products, services, opportunities, campaigns and wanting to get involved with different initiatives and government-related activity. For me, the most unique aspect of the Dementia Action Alliance is its unifying voice. It brings so many different charities, organisations and businesses (not to mention individuals like me) together in a non-competitive, collaborative space.

The second most important aspect is the DAA’s campaigning voice. My involvement in the Carers’ Call to Action and, more recently, promoting the Dementia Words Matter Call to Action is something I am particularly proud of as a DAA member.

DAA campaigns are impactful

For me, campaigns (or ‘Calls to Action’) are a really important part of what the DAA does. They help to focus on specific areas of importance, not just for members of the DAA but for wider society. The upcoming Call to Action on Post-Diagnostic Support (PDS) for seldom heard groups is one I’m particularly excited about since PDS is something I’ve championed for a long time. The idea that you’d seek to increase diagnosis of dementia without providing post-diagnostic support at the same time is nonsensical, so I hope this focus on PDS with its particular remit around seldom heard groups will help to concentrate minds and advance really innovative post-diagnostic support.

Of course the success of campaigns, and indeed the overall impact of the DAA, is entirely dependent upon what we, as members, are prepared to put into it. Since joining I’ve updated my action plan reasonably regularly (all National members are required to submit an action plan and regularly update it) and attended meetings — the big annual meeting and smaller quarterly meetings. But whilst these are important functional elements of being a member, how do we bring REAL added value to the Alliance?

For me there are two important aspects every member should be doing.

  1. Talk about the DAA amongst your networks and colleagues. As a result of doing this, I’ve persuaded clients of mine and organisations I work with to become DAA members. Increasing the size, expertise and reach of the DAA is vital for its continued evolution and impact.
  2. Publicise your DAA activity. Every time I update my action plan I put a news item on my website about it and add a link to my twitter account. It doesn’t take much effort, but it helps to keep the DAA in the minds of the people who follow my work, above and beyond just having the DAA membership badge on my website.

As for the future of the DAA, I feel its role is even more important now than when it began in 2010. Dementia has never been so talked about, nor has it attracted so much interest across health and social care, business and industry. As members we are a diverse bunch, but if DAA membership is a uniting force for us, then its values of collaboration, putting the person with dementia and their families and carers at the heart of our work, and ensuring well-intentioned words are turned into meaningful action must be a the core of what all of us do every single day.

Find out more via Beth’s action plan