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The Way Back blog - July 2018

The Way Back blog

The Wayback is our virtual reality film series designed to help those living with dementia remember. And for the team behind it, it’s creating some incredible moments that hopefully none of us will ever forget. One of the most recent highlights was finding out we’re a finalist in the Essex Challenge Dementia Prize 2018. The expertise on offer and the possibility of a £100k grant gives us real hope for taking The Wayback forward and helping more people experience it.

So who are we? Well, the first thing to say is that we have no professional background in the world of dementia or Alzheimer’s care – just personal experience of our own loved ones with the disease. And it’s those experiences which united us to want to make The Wayback. There is an original team of seven of us, friends and colleagues in the advertising and film industries, but actually it’s taken a team of hundreds to get us to where we are today. From the 230 Kickstarter backers, 170 volunteer extras, 70-strong film crew and dozens more behind the scenes, it’s been so humbling to see how many people want to make a difference – usually because they’ve had seen the effects of the disease in their own families.
Since the workshop last month, we’ve been ploughing on with as many Wayback things as we can manage outside of our day jobs. And it’s been quite a month. Thanks to the workshop itself, we managed to get a last-minute place at The Alzheimer’s Show at Olympia, London, giving demonstrations of The Wayback to hundreds of people across the two day event. It was a very moving experience as we were able to see once again the effect the film can have on some people. For example, it was great watching 3 generations of a family who had brought their grandfather along to the event all engage with him as he watched the film. And seeing a care home owner reduced to tears of happiness at the prospect of using it with his residents showed us its potential if we can just get it into more hands.

We have also dedicated our micro-grant to commissioning an independent evaluation of The Wayback across 6 care homes (waiting to find out which ones in Essex) to test sustainability on interactions and wellbeing. Our proposal to present these findings to the UK Dementiia Congress has been accepted and we look forward to doing this in November. Last year it was attended by over 700 delegates, from people living with dementia and carers to specialists in health, social work and academia. Exciting but also pretty nerve-wracking too.

Aside from all this, The Wayback has also been picking up a few awards in the creative industries too which is great recognition for our production partners who gave their time for free. These included a coveted pencil award at the D&AD awards in London and being named as one of the top ten Best British Design Ideas of 2018. All exposure helps spread the word far and wide. Which was probably most evident last week when three student nurses specialising in dementia care visited us from South Korea to interview us for their studies. The Wayback continues to throw up unexpected surprises to us at every turn. It’s been an incredible journey so – long may it continue.