Aimee Packwood, Regional Support Officer for the South West, talks us through the recent changes to the Information Session resources.
As you know we are constantly reviewing the Dementia Friends Information Session to make sure the messages are as clear as possible, and that it is easy to deliver for you.
We’ve had some feedback from Champions about things we can do to achieve this, so have made a few small changes to help you when delivering your Information Sessions.
New versions of the activities, or the full handbook, can be downloaded from your Champions dashboard, so log on and take a look!
- You told us that it wasn’t always easy to identify which messages in the bingo or broken sentences activity were the key ones, so we have added some * to make these easier to see. (Pages 10-14 of your handbook)
- We’ve expanded the second key message to give a bit more information about some things that can reduce the risk of developing dementia. (Page 10) The new statement now reads:
2. *Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain.
This is our second key message.
In the same way that any other organ can be damaged by disease (e.g., kidney disease, liver disease), dementia is caused when diseases physically damage the brain.
Imagine that the brain is a collection of thousands of fairy lights, each representing a memory, a skill or a function of the brain. Now imagine that dementia is causing some of those lights to flicker, dim or switch off completely. For each person this will happen in a different order and different “lights” will be affected.
Just like with other diseases, a healthy lifestyle that features regular exercise, a balanced diet and not smoking can help reduce your chance of developing dementia. What’s good for your heart is also good for your head!
- You told us that there was some confusion over Bingo statement 9 with some people thinking that the fact that one in fourteen people over 65 had dementia meant that 13 out of 14 people would never get dementia. We’ve reworded this to make it easier to understand. (Page 12) The new statement now reads:
At any one time, one in fourteen people over 65 has dementia.
- Some people told us that they had never heard of Bletchley Park, so we have added in that the resident worked there during the Second World War, to make this example easier to understand. (Page 13). The statement now reads:
*There is more to the person than the dementia.
This is our fifth key message.
In the same way that we would look at someone with cancer or diabetes and see a person first, there is more to a person than the dementia.
Q: What does someone with dementia look like?
A: Like you and I!
A care home in the North East had an elderly resident with dementia who constantly tapped her fingers on every surface. Tap, tap, tap. Tap, tap, tap. This was extremely annoying for the staff and the other residents, especially as they could not work out why she did it.
One day, her niece came to visit from Australia. Naturally, the first question they asked her was “Why does she do this?!” Unfortunately, she did not know.
The care home staff spent the rest of the afternoon with the niece, finding out more about the resident. One of the things they discovered was that during the Second World War she had worked at Bletchley Park and had helped to crack the Enigma code by receiving messages transmitted in Morse code! Maybe, instead of “tap, tap, tap”, it was “dot, dot, dash”!
Q: What do you think changed for the resident after this?
A: People’s attitude changed – they saw her as a heroine. The local papers came to do a story about her; the Scouts came to tap away in Morse code to her.
Q: How do you think this might have impacted on the resident?
A: Positive interaction and engagement would make her feel valued, happier, engaged, and allowed her to live well with dementia.
This goes to show that there really is much more to the person than the dementia.
The Bookcase analogy
- We’ve made it clearer during the bookcase analogy that this shows how dementia could affect a person, and a reminder that dementia affects each person differently. (Pages 14-15) See the bookcase analogy here.
- We’ve added in the Police’s non-emergency number (101) if you need to report a crime that is not an emergency (but please call 999 if it is an emergency) (p24 of your Champions side of the handbook)
Thanks to all the Champions who fed in their thoughts on the Information Session, and do let your RSO know if there are any changes you think we should make for the next version. Thanks for making sure you are up to date with the Information Session resources!