Working in silos

Cartoon puchased from

It’s day 19 of Dementia Awareness Month in 2020, and although I started out this month, thinking that for my usual September daily blog series I would kickstart the #BanBPSD campaign again, I have strayed.

That is because there are too many other things I believe are just as important, and even urgent, for me to think about, and then to write about.

Of course, it is also likely I may change my mind an any number of the topics I have been discussing this month, for for now, I am exploring issues and tring to make sense of them.

I think that is called having an open mind…

So, for todays blog, I wanted to write about the potential harm being done by people and / or organisations who continue to work in silos, and a seeming unwillingness to break them down in order to achieve more. Even more importantly, I think it has become imperative, even urgent that we do this, to create real change for real people living with dementia and our families. So…

What is a silo mentality?

Most people will have heard of a silo mentality, and are likely to know what it is, but I decided to look it up anyway. According to Investopedia, a  silo mentality is a reluctance to share information with employees of different divisions in the same company. This attitude is seen as reducing the organization’s efficiency and, at worst, contributing to a damaged corporate culture.

  • A silo mentality is the unwillingness to share information or knowledge between employees or across different departments within a company.
  • The silo mentality usually begins with competition among senior managers.
  • Successful firms encourage and facilitate a free flow of information.
  • Silos can create low morale, negatively impact workflows, and ultimately, adversely effetcs the customer experience.

So, let’s us apply this definition of silo mentality to academia, to health care professionals providing services, and to advocacy organisations. We need more people to share research, to share policies and programs, and to more equitably include ‘end-users’.

Isn’t it time to stop the individual or organisational self serving attitudes and practices of working in silos, and to start to honestly collaborate and cooperate, so we can all work together to improve outcomes?

An unwillingness to break down the silos?

From my viewpoint, it has also become very clear that if anyone strays from the ‘party line’, or tries to break down the silos, we are then actively excluded from many of the events or discussions about topics or issues that effect us. Organisations are actively tring to harness the power of dementia self advocates (also free labour for them), but, it seems, only if ‘we’ stay on their tracks…

That is not advocacy or activism; just because an organisaton has invited someone, or is funding an event or meeting, or a working group, I see that as no justifiable reason not to have a different view point on any given topic.

Shouldn’t difference be welcomed?

Does not including someone with dementia, who has a different opinion equate to exclusion?

Isn’t that then, a breach of Article 19 of the CRPD?

Isn’t inclusion what involving consumers is meant to be about?

Isn’t the point of getting consumers involved, so that things that matter to them, are what others campaign for?

There are literally hundreds of issues or topics about dementia, and about improving dementia care and support, that need discussing, and which also need more research. They also need much stronger consumer involvement, so that the outcomes actually impact those people it impacts. To help break down some of these silos, maybe it is time to ask a few questions, some of them havign been listed below to help you (and me…) understand what I am trying to say here.

  • If you or your organisation wants to work on culture change or improve the care of elders and people with dementia, contact the culture change movement to get involved,
  • If you or your organisation wants to review your concept of BPSD, or even want to change the name, contact the active members of the #BanBPSD campaign;
  • If you or your organisation is reviewing or evaluating the Dementia Friendly Initiatives (DFIs), contact all stakeholders; for example, I was actively excluded from attending a number of events and round table discussions about DFI’s through 2018-2020, even though I am the current Chair and CEO of the only global organisation that is of, by and for people with dementia;
  • If you or your organisaton is reviewing advocacy or activism, involve everyone, rather than focus only on one country or region, as this approach will potentially avoid reinventing the wheels;
  • If you or your organisation is reviewing your Person Centred Care practices (or, usually, the lack of them), contact the experts in that area;
  • If you or your organisation is wanting to review post diagnosistc support and care (or the lack of it) including rehabilitation, then involve those people who have been active in this space.

Obviously, I could go on with this list, but I am guessing you get my point, which is that for too long now, people without (and with) dementia have been working in silos, and seem unwilling to break them down in order to effect tangible change.

Many want our endorsements, but not our opinions.

Martin Luther King Junior once said; “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about the things that matter.” 

This matters…

4 thoughts on “Working in silos

  1. I do agree with you. As a care worker I have always questioned silos even in my dementia study I have tried to say it in my own way not hurting feelings. But not anymore..


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