Case Study: Dementia Challenge

About the project:

From March 2012, we’ve been running a policy engagement campaign for the Dementia Challenge in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society.  The campaign has encouraged people to get involved with the “champion groups” who are reviewing how society tackles aspects of dementia care. The membership of these “champions groups” was drawn from Alzheimer Society, the Chief Medical Officer, amongst others. These groups were tasked with considering different aspects of dementia research and approach to providing support for sufferers and, advising government.

The campaign has mostly been delivered through social media channels and our partners, with the department running only some of the engagement exercises itself, via official channels, and curating the wider conversation centrally.

We have used Department of Health (DH) channels to ask some consultation-style questions on behalf of the champion groups, including about how care for people with dementia and their carers could be improved and how we can create dementia friendly communities (eg

We received hundreds of comments when we asked questions on DH web pages on behalf of the “champion groups” (eg, but many more when the conversation took place or was referenced on other sites (such as those of prominent blogs, The Not So Big Society and  Whose Shoes) or via social media (eg in conversations using the hashtag #dementiachallenge as well as the user-generated one, #dementiachallengers on Twitter). The champion groups will publish their progress report next month, drawing on this engagement work.

Testimonials & lessons learned:
Given that the digital engagement for this happended in many places online, we tried to use the official landing page for the Dementia Challenge to present an aggregated view of activity, using feeds generated by social book-marking to pull in content from elsewhere. I’m not sure we nailed the interface first time, but the resulting comments feel quite different from those generated during a typical consultation.


Published by Anthony Zacharzewski

Anthony Zacharzewski was one of the founders of Demsoc in 2006. Before starting work for Demsoc in 2010, he was a Whitehall civil servant and a local government officer.

2 replies on “Case Study: Dementia Challenge”

  1. Thank you Stephen for featuring the Whose Shoes? blog in your summary – I am very honoured. The dementia series began in “Dementia Awareness week” back in May 2012 and we have now posted over 70 guest blogs, looking at dementia from different perspectives. We have had posts from people with dementia, carers, clinicians, researchers, care providers, and many people offering exciting and innovative approaches.

    It has been a fascinating project and has attracted a lot of interest. Several of the posts have looked specifically at how social media is being used to highlight good and bad practice.

    We have also formed a group of #dementiachallengers on Twitter. This has been a very “inclusive” hashtag and we have been delighted to see Anna Hepburn from DH using the hashtag and writing an inspiring blogpost about officials becoming (or obviously being able to show that they are) “real people” and to engage with groups such as ours through social media. Increasingly, particularly at last week’s Dementia Congress in Brighton, #dementiachallengers are meeting up in person and forming powerful collaborations.

    The exciting thing is that these people don’t just want to talk about change. They are bringing about change through so many different means – developing practical resources, collecting stories, innovating, sharing good practice, casting a spotlight on unacceptable or poor practice and telling “the powers that be” how it is to walk in their shoes.

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