Design and Education – Combined Approach

Two-year programme of development for staff and services commissioned by large county council

Cumbria is a great example of what happens when one organisation takes a truly integrated approach to design, education and learning around dementia.

The Challenge

Cumbria County Council approached DSDC in December 2011 to discuss how best to approach training and dementia across the whole remit of the council – part of an investment strategy in dementia which also included other partners. Cumbria was looking for training which would create a sustainable impact on local services for people with dementia and act as a driver for change.

“DSDC provided a complete package on design and education. They supported us in thinking through what we needed and then pulled it all together. The impact on our staff and services justified every penny.”
Donna Story, Development Manager at Cumbria County Counci

What DSDC did

Over the next two years DSDC delivered

Best Practice
Facilitator training which cascaded dementia knowledge and know-how into different care and service settings over a two year period in the council

Bespoke Design
Training including three one day courses on “Introduction to Dementia Design” paced over six months for in-house staff

Dementia Design
Publications buying extra copies of DSDC books on Interiors and Gardens for staff not able to attend the training

Information for carers
free training and copies of 10 Helpful Hints for carers and 10 Helpful Hints for Dementia design at home were made available to family and informal carers

Specialist education
individuals from the council began Advanced Study at the University of Stirling


By using the Best Practice programme as a foundation for a county-wide approach Cumbria provided fresh credibility to paper commitments on improving dementia services and practice.

By investing at the same time in bespoke design training and supporting information, Cumbria equipped key people across the county with the practical tools and development of expertise they needed to make a difference.

Given the different areas from which staff were drawn this approach also created new networks of expertise as a foundation for future sustainable change.

This integrated approach has proven both cost effective and high-impact change.