Video: LGBT Switchboard collaboration

This video is an interview with John Hammond of the Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard, about his organisation's collaboration with the Brighton and Hove Memory Assessment Service.


Video transcription

TITLE: What does the Brighton & Hove LGBT Switchboard do?

John: Brighton and Hove LGBT Switchboard has been around in Brighton for almost 50 years. We are Brighton’s oldest LGBTQ+ charity and we support our community across Sussex through a range of projects, including our Specialist Dementia Support Service.

TITLE: Collaborating with Brighton and Hove Memory Assessment Service

John: The collaboration between Switchboard and the Memory Assessment Service is creative and exciting. It gives an opportunity for each of us to learn from one another and to develop our services that ultimately support people living with dementia.

It’s a real opportunity for our organisation, we are a charitable organisation, to have a voice in a really important service in the city.

And often we find that health and social care services are considered the authority that are our contribution as a voluntary organisation is secondary to that. But in our collaboration with the Memory Assessment Service, that hasn’t been true.

We are absolutely equal partners with equally valuable voices, and that’s been exciting, I think. As an organisation we’ve hugely benefited from contributing to the admirable work that the Memory Assessment Service does.

TITLE: What kind of partnership is this?

John: The head of the Memory Assessment Service is in direct contact with us and that feels really important as well, that you know somebody in that management position is able and willing to dedicate time for what is considered an essentially valuable project.

What’s also happened, I think, is that we’ve been able to engage with lots of different people at the service, too. So we feel almost like we’re a kind of trusted partner and almost also honorary members of the Memory Assessment Service, which is really valuable for us.

We have a shared vision, I guess, of supporting people living with dementia. And so it’s really important that we’re able to feel that we are almost having a presence without being a kind of formal member of the service. But we’re nonetheless we’re there and respected. And that’s really valuable for us.

TITLE: What are you learning together?

John: We found from our focus groups with the Memory Assessment Service that people were talking about their previous life experiences of accessing health and social care services. And some of those haven’t always been positive.

Some people have experienced discrimination or prejudice and have been less willing to therefore access services in the future. So as they have then encountered, in our instance, for example, dementia concerns, some people have been less likely to engage with services at the earliest possible opportunity.

And that’s been a very important part of the learning of the collaboration, as well is how to engage people earliest possible stage so that people are, regardless of their identities, able to engage with services that are most appropriate for them at the most appropriate time for them as well. That’s really been an essential part of the learning,

Also, alongside the fact that a lot of services find it hard to gather information
from the beneficiaries of their services about their sexuality or their gender identity. And nonetheless, they appreciate the value of that because that’s essential for onward support planning.

And so from the focus groups, we were able to understand a little bit more about how we might go about collecting that information and explaining to users of our services why that information is important and what it would be used for, ultimately for the benefit of their experiences.

TITLE: What difference do you want this work to make?

John: I think a really good outcome would be that the service gathers sensitively and appropriately more information about service users, so more information about their sexuality and gender identity. Just in order that they are able to create support plans that are the most inclusive and affirmative for all their service users.

I think there will be a really good outcome if more LGBTQ people access the service so that the figures, I guess, of the beneficiaries of the service increase, so that there’s been an absolutely tangible benefit to our project.

And also I think another really valuable outcome would be the awareness raising of the work and the collaboration. And that the Memory Assessment Service is there to support people at the earliest possible opportunity.

There’s a huge benefit to having early and affirmative access to services. It means that people will ultimately have an enhanced quality of life and also be able to plan for the future. It means that people will be able to discuss openly their personal situations and their future hopes as well.

I think often with dementia, people are asked to think about their histories and their life histories, but often forgotten that people have hopes for the future too. And I think access to services that are affirmative for all will mean that everybody will be able to speak openly, I guess, and without judgement about their hopes for their individual futures.


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