Change - Service Consultancy

High-impact assessment of multi-agency dementia plans in Cumbria

DSDC was commissioned in 2012 to undertake service consultancy on dementia services across the county by Adult Social Care, Cumbria County Council, in partnership with NHS Cumbria.

The Challenge

In 2011 an investment plan of just under £2m was agreed by the lead agencies within Cumbria to support a joint strategy to connect and improve dementia services (“Working Together to Improve Life with Dementia in Cumbria”).  Resources were allocated to a range of programmes of work and projects involving the statutory and third sectors – all designed to increase skills and understanding as well as to improve services.

The consultancy was commissioned to provide an independent assessment of the current dementia strategy and provision within the area and its fitness for purpose in relation to the national dementia strategy.

The focus was to be on identifying

  • key areas of strength, which could be built upon
  • areas of potential risk, where further action was needed.

What DSDC Did

The consultancy was undertaken jointly by Professor June Andrews, Director of the Dementia Services Development and Mark Butler, a specialist Associate of DSDC. 

The consultancy used the well-established Deep Dive methodology developed by DSDC involving a three-stage process:

  • Detailed Analysis – involving a desk review of papers and documentation and governance reporting
  • Intensive Site Visits – a 2-3 day 24 hour visit involving assessment of facilities, observation of meetings and structured interviews with key people
  • Report and Action Plan – an open and independent report identifying recommendations for action

In this case following the first report DSDC was also commissioned to focus on specific areas which would make the most significant difference to people with dementia in Cumbria.


The Deep Dive delivered two candid reports which combined a balanced overall assessment with specific, cost-effective recommendations for action.  These were designed to address four main challenges for the leaders in Cumbria

  • to develop a shared sense of collective leadership for changing the experience of people with dementia amongst public and community leaders in Cumbria, in a way which brings out personal contribution and connects convincingly to the public to create an environment in Cumbria where individual staff and carers feel they are actively supported and encouraged to work together to improve the experience of those with dementia. 
  • to increase the practical knowledge and confidence of everyone who lives and works in Cumbria about dementia, giving them a role to play in making Cumbria a dementia-friendly county
  • to mobilise all necessary resources in organisations and communities to maximum effect.

Why this Matters

DSDC recommended four vehicles for action to address

  • issues of strategic intent and governance in respect of the investment programme
  • potential and real fractures in the way the current systems were working
  • gaps between aims and delivery.

These were:

  • the Cumbria Dementia Commitment
  • the Leading Dementia Care Event
  • the Cumbria Commitment Website
  • the Dementia@Cumbria Resource

These formed the basis for a coherent multi-agency action plan which was subsequently taken forward by a joint strategic group involving all key stakeholders.