Member showcase: Martin Robertson – Scottish Dementia Strategy

Scotland has had three previous dementia strategies; they were created without much input from people living with dementia or their family members or carers. However, they did guarantee one year’s post-diagnostic support after diagnosis for all. This ambition has not been realised; the best health partnerships manage 80%, the worst 20%, with the average being 50%.

The Scottish Government’s Dementia Unit realised that a different approach had to be taken to ensure the new strategy had a better chance of success. So, they created two panels; one of interested organisations, and the other of 11 people with lived experience and 11 carers.

Between them, they created a draft strategy which went out for consultation and changes were made. Meetings were hybrid so people could attend wherever they lived in Scotland. Also, during the consultation process members of the civil service toured the whole of Scotland, including the remote Highlands and islands; true inclusivity.

The Lived Experience Panel had members from the two dementia organisations in Scotland (Alzheimer Scotland and About Dementia) and three independent individuals. Dementia UK was not represented on either panel although being independent I am like a magpie and pick ideas from here and there, so Admiral Nurses will be considered in the implementation phase.

My other two inputs were to highlight mental health and dementia wards, which are rarely talked about by those with young onset dementia for obvious reasons. I also had one-to-one conversations via Teams with the civil servants as they recognise my work as an independent individual, which to me is very empowering.

The plan is for both groups to carry on as Implementation Oversight Groups to ensure that the chosen priorities are met. I am under no illusion that my two inputs will be prioritised, however I can use them as leverage to show that they are important and hopefully help mental health charities receive funding for them.

  • Martin Robertson was diagnosed with young onset dementia aged 58 and is a passionate dementia activist.
  • Read the Scottish Dementia Strategy published in May 2023 here.