People living with dementia, their carers and families, professionals working in dementia care services. Foton takes a whole-society approach: everyone can make a difference: schools, socio-cultural organizations, cultural organisations, local economy..
Foton strives to enable people living with dementia to have fulfilled and quality lives in the community they live in.
The Foton concept is holistic as it not only promotes a dementia-friendly social care and health system and open culture of cooperation between organizations, but also proactively engages in influencing city initiatives resulting in citizens of Bruges gaining a better understanding of dementia. Foton is an open access service and embraces people who seek information, people with symptoms, carers, as well as health and social care professionals. A dementia diagnosis is not necessary to become part of the Foton family. Foton employs 7 dementia counsellors and is assisted by 25 volunteers without whom the activities and dementia resource library would not be possible.
Bruges (Belgium) has approximately 118,000 inhabitants of which, 25,000 of them are 65 years or older. The number of people living with dementia is estimated at 2,600, with 70% of them living at home.
Founded in 1995, Foton is a centre of expertise in dementia. It is an initiative that was started by Familiezorg West-Vlaanderen, an autonomous and integrated non-profit homecare organisation in West Flanders, offering specialised care and support at home for people living with dementia.
Care and support is provided by home health care workers who receive a four-day dementia training course. Foton also trains volunteers, dementia counsellors, as well as nurses and occupational therapists who provide specialised dementia services. The umbrella organisation Familiezorg (Family care at home) consists of 2,200 people (including 500 volunteers) that are devoted to providing personalised and specialised care and support to 10,000 people who are either directly or indirectly touched by dementia.
The vision, mission and values of Foton is captured in our name.
A foton (Photon from Greek meaning light) is a little light-particle, almost invisible to the eye and the vision for the Foton service is to bring light to the people’s lives and most importantly, find the lights present in all people and situations and find ways to connect them together.
The aim of this initiative is to eliminate the existing stereotypical views of dementia by raising awareness through actions that present and promote dementia, the people living with it, and their families, in new and different ways.
The main objectives of Foton are:
To help provide long-term structural support to people living with dementia, Foton focuses on:
In terms of creating a dementia-friendly society, the initiative “Together for a dementia-friendly city” is a partnership between:
The aim of the partnership is to make the best use of all existing expertise. The commitment of the Mayor and the City Council is an important added value for the success of the initiative. Projects include:
Foton joins together health and social care professionals from multiple disciplines and sectors through a dementia-platform (forum). Foton provides training and introduces new projects, discussing people’s desires, goal and needs and how to translate the theory and learning into practice.
Foton has created a network of over 200 partners:
The effectiveness principles have been developed to guide action in a complex transition and turn Integrated Community Care from aspiration into reality. Each one is a clear and actionable statement that provides guidance for thinking and behaving toward some desired result. Building on the typology (introduced above) and the effectiveness principles, Foton is a practice that can be seen as embodiment of Integrated Community Care.
Foton exemplifies the effectiveness principles ‘Co-develop health & wellbeing and enable participation’ by:
Foton also embodies the ICC effectiveness principles of ‘Building resilient communities’ by:
However, Foton continues to struggle with achieving the legal and financial conditions enabling the co-creation of care and support at the wider community level.
Foton has embedded ‘a learning by doing’ approach to its governance by:
Co-developing a toolkit for planning, reflection and learning within the European Foundations’ Initiative on Dementia. The Toolkit (available for download here), constitutes a collection of ideas, concepts and examples for reflecting upon and learning from projects addressing the social side of dementia.
The TransForm project developed three main dimensions (drivers, focus and ingredients) that characterise the ICC practices. The assessment of these dimensions is visualised in a slider model. The slider bars illustrate how the various practices of ICC can be positioned on these core dimensions.
Foton relies on structural financial support, which covers approximately 70% of the funding requirements:
30% is sourced directly by Foton income generating activities.
In order to realise the ambitions of Foton, Familiezorg West-Vlaanderen has opted for a participatory governance model which includes policymakers, stakeholders and people living with dementia as follows:
The aim of the partnership is to make the best use of all existing expertise. The commitment of the Mayor and the City Council is crucial for the success of the initiative.
The daily management is led by the umbrella association: Familiezorg West-Vlaanderen npo:
Between 2010 and 2019, 24,879 persons received information and training in 974 sessions (approximately 3168 training hours). This includes health care professionals, students, caregivers, people with dementia and people of the wider urban community.
The dementia counsellors undertake an average of 1500 interventions in approximately 350 families a year. Foton is one of the 32 organisations that won the European Foundations’ Initiative on Dementia (EFID) Award acknowledging the work on improving the lives of people living with dementia in the community. Foton co-developed the EFID “Toolkit for Planning, Reflection and Learning” aimed at helping professionals and practitioners think through their approach to planning, implementing and reflecting on their work/project.
Foton developed a dementia guide to serve as an instrument for empowering people about their health/social needs. Like a colour guide for choosing paint, the dementia guide helps navigate through the world of dementia in a clear and simple way. It consists of a simple social map and straightforward communication hints. More than 7.000 dementia guides have been distributed.
People involved in the FotonHouse initiative their activities delay the move to residential institutions, decrease isolation, and increase the quality of life for people living with dementia and their families/carers.
Foton was impacted by Covid-19 primarily in our essential method of interaction: in-person contact.
Group sessions were cancelled, and video calls were introduced. This virtual method was successful amongst teams of professionals, but less so with families. In fact, Foton continued to visit families in person, respecting physical distancing measures, because in-person interactions are vital for families living with dementia. Wearing masks made face-to-face interactions more complicated as they created a barrier to communication.
Video calls provided an alternative channel for communication and this is expected to be continued, assessing continuously to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of this service. Covid-19 led Foton to evaluate the need for webinars and online training modules to preserve the educational efforts on changing perceptions on dementia and communication with people living with dementia.
The most valuable lesson was the fundamental roles that the neighbourhood and informal networks have in the lives of families of people living with dementia and also the primary care at home like the professional caregivers, nursing people and the volunteers