by Ela Czapka and Hanna Murray-Carlsson
This year ENIEC’s annual meeting was held in Bristol, UK, thanks to hard work of the organizing committee, especially our colleague Aandeloris Chacon together with her team from Bristol Black Carers, and Bristol City Council. Even strong wind could not have stopped us. However, it caused numerous flight delays and cancellations, and in result, not everyone arrived in Bristol on 13 March.
The welcome ceremony was opened by Aandeloris Chacon, who side by side with Chairwoman Lola Casal-Sanchez welcomed us with much love. Councillor Hellen Holland introduced us to the organization and developments of eldercare in Bristol. We learnt about how Bristol is trying to transform eldercare towards a more person centered approach and local approach, exchanging care home placements for home care and community involvement. We also got to listen to a presentation by xxxx about the progress of the age-friendly city project in Bristol. After the ceremony we enjoyed a delicious Caribbean dinner. The annual meeting was already off to a great start!
Next day was full of interesting presentations and exciting meetings. We started with a roundtable introductions to let our new members be familiar with who we are and what we do. After, Lola Casal, the Chief of ENIEC, introduced new members and presented ENIEC’s structure and ENIEC’s board. Subsequently, we had the privilege to learn about migrant communities in Bristol thanks to our friends from different migrant organization.
One of the highlights of the day was a trip to a nursing home. We divided into groups and visited the various facilities belonging to St. Monica Trust. What impressed us most was the Cote Lane Retirement Village. David Williams, the Chief Executive of St Monica Trust, told us about the history of the place and showed us around.
After lunch, made and served “with heart”, we had a lively discussion on ENIEC’s “policy paper”. The discussion was facilitated by Harry Mertens who presented the proposal of “policy paper”. We agreed on introducing a few changes into the proposal and continuing the discussion next day.
In the afternoon we had two time slots with parallel sessions. The session on dementia was facilitated by Saloua Berdai and Jennifer van Broek, and the session on methods of communication was run by Adriene Layne, CEO of YelloButterfly. During the first session, we talked about our experiences with the services that meet the needs of people with dementia. It was an excellent platform for exchanging views and ideas.
In the second timeslot, there were two sessions: Mental Health, and Wellbeing facilitated by Aandeloris Chacon and Carer’s Perspectives facilitated by Ruth Franco & Angela Monfries. In the first session, Aandeloris shared her knowledge about selfcare. She stressed the importance of showing love not only for those you care for, but also for yourself, and included practical exercises. In the session by Ruth and Angela, we discussed how to reckognize carers’ burnout and shared personal experiences. We were also introduced to a new form of music therapy for older people with dementia, which uses autobiographical playlists with music from a persons’ puberty to help people with dementia to reconnect with their sense of self.
The very last session contained an introduction to a new interactive e-learning method, led by Kristel Logghe. We got to participate in a live training and learn about possibilities to set up a specific training for intercultural eldercare drawing on ENIEC expertise.
This Very intense and exciting day ended with a magnificent dinner prepared by the Bristol Black Carers. After dinner we were bursting with energy and we were ready for the dances. As usual, the most important conversations occurred in the breaks between the dances.
The next day, we holded a General Assembly to sum up 2018, make important decisions for 2019 and to elect a new ENIEC’s Board. Lola Casal presented the work of the Board in 2018. Sari Heikkinen talked about issues related to the membership. The number of ENIEC’s members is constantly changing due to changes in people’s professional carriers. At the moment, we are 84. Conny van der Aarlvoort presented a financial report. She informed us about ENIEC’s new bank account. In addition, it has been decided to increase the membership fee to 150 euro. Kristel Logghe told us about donating money for ENIEC. We agreed that we need to increase ENIEC’s visibility. Nikkolet Arnold presented the work of communication group and encouraged all members to contribute with their ideas.
After a coffee break we came back to the discussion on ENIEC’s dementia paper and “policy/strategy paper”. It turned out that we have very different opinions and different ideas. Nevertheless, we share the same vision and were able to agree on the changes needed for the final draft.
Lola Casal, Conny van der Aalsvoort and Jennifer van den Broeke were nominated for the board by a nominating committee. Lola and Conny were elected for the next two years and Jennifer was elected for a 1-year position in place of Sari Heikkinen, who couldn’t continue on the board for professional reasons.
At the end of the meeting, our colleagues from Estonia and Finland surprised us with a typical Estonian snack. In this “tasty” way we were informed about the place of ENIEC’s Annual Meeting 2020. Tallinn, we are coming!
We would like to express our gratitude to our wonderful hosts in Bristol. You have welcomed us with open arms and hearts!