Creating a more dementia-friendly NHS

Sisters and Dementia Friends Champions Jude Andrews & Di Roberts have set themselves the impressive task of running 26 Dementia Friends Information Sessions over eight weeks for staff at the Royal Derby Hospital, including four Sessions on NHS Change Day on the 11th March.

Jude and Di attended Champions training in December 2013. After taking a short break from running Information Sessions, they took part in the Getting Started webinar which helped them to re-energise and come up with the idea for their challenge. We spoke to Jude and Di to find out why they became Dementia Friends Champions and how they’ve been rolling out the Information Sessions to hospital staff:

What inspired you to become Dementia Friends Champions?

We cared for our Mum with Alzheimer’s for 11 years.  We had to fight every inch of the way with every aspect of her care. If we can make this journey easier for one person living with dementia then that would make it worthwhile. The most rewarding thing about being a Dementia Friends Champion is knowing that, in however small a way, we could be helping other people.

And why do you think it is important for hospital staff specifically to become Dementia Friends?

It’s important for staff to have some understanding & compassion towards families living with dementia. The staff have been really keen to get involved and attend a Session. Di works in the pharmacy at the Royal Derby Hospital and at their annual meeting 95% of the staff voted to attend a Dementia Friends Information Session. The Therapies department then requested to participate making a total of around 700 staff. And staff have been allowed time out of their working day to attend the Sessions.

Have there been any challenges in organising the Sessions? Or running them?

There have been some challenges in promoting the Sessions to staff including the fact that a lot of hospital staff have mandatory dementia training and they thought this was a repeat of what they had already attended.* We’ve also had times when the Sessions have been communicated as ‘training’ despite our instructions, so we’ve had to clarify that it is about raising awareness and reducing stigma, not formal training!

Do you have any top tips for other Champions who are looking to run Sessions in their workplace?

Make sure they are well communicated; don’t assume colleagues will, or won’t, want to attend. Don’t be nervous, it’s fun! Engage eye contact and smile :)

We’ll catch up with Jude and Di in a few weeks’ time to find out how they’ve been getting on.

If you’re interested in becoming a Dementia Friends Champion, visit dementiafriends.org.uk

*We are aware of the mandatory training that NHS staff are being asked to complete and we are working with Health Education England to find ways of including Dementia Friends as part of the NHS training.

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