Staff at housing and care organisation The Guinness Partnership have been working hard to raise awareness of dementia across the organisation and encourage staff to take action to help people affected by dementia. We spoke to Wendy Wells to find out what impact Dementia Friends has had.
Natalie Hicks recently became a Dementia Friends Champion and, after initially feeling nervous, is now confidently planning and delivering Information Sessions in her community. Here Natalie tells us what it was like to deliver her first Session:
Travelling from York to Bradford for the DF champion training I didn’t know what to expect.. But it didn’t disappoint!
Since returning home I have practiced on whoever would listen…
Then, once I had realised my puppies knew the script better than me, I decided to take the next step. I booked my venue and started advertising. I spoke with local businesses, put up numerous posters and advertised on the local community websites and social media pages.
As time went on and it became more real, I became more nervous and the doubts in my ability to do public speaking went through the roof. I thought about cancelling, postponing, emigrating… But I was spurred on by family, friends and kind comments from fellow Dementia Friends Champions
The day arrived… Laminated games, badges and action cards in hand, I made my way to my destination.
A close friend had been roped in to help me set up, carry leaflets/brochures and be a familiar face in the crowd.
Then one by one people started to arrive.. 7 in total. From the local community, other areas of York and 2 from further a field! All with a different story; losing a loved one, volunteering in the local community, wanting to help work towards making their business dementia-friendly!
After the introduction I started forgetting I was stood in front of strangers,worrying I was rushing, forgetting my words or trying to control the nervous shaking.. And began to ENJOY!
The session went really well and whilst giving them ideas of ways they could volunteer and suggesting becoming a Dementia Friends Champion – I let slip it was my first Session and everyone in front of me looked truly shocked! And I can genuinely say at that moment I felt so proud of myself for working through my fears.
I have since been asked to carry out two more sessions; the local community committee all want to become dementia friends and a local community cafe have booked a session in the coming months!
I am now filled with a new found confidence and I have pledged to continue to help people living with dementia in my community. I am now working with the local community group to help them work towards becoming dementia friendly, pledging to assist with setting up a memory cafe in the local area and introducing side by side.
I really hope my experience is helpful to you all and I hope we can all continue to share ideas/experiences!
I do believe we can do great things to promote and create dementia friendly communities!
The Champions forum is an opportunity for a group of Dementia Friends Champions to work together and with the Dementia Friends team throughout the year to share their feedback on the programme and to help us develop the resources and support you need to run your Information Sessions.
Here two of our forum members tell us what it’s been like for them to be on the Champions forum:
Michelle Kipling is a member of the North West Champions forum and recently attended the forum meeting in Leeds:
Just spent a productive afternoon as part of the NW Champions Forum. While we were a small group today that didn’t stop us from generating some good ideas and providing feedback to Charlotte on the issues currently facing the initiative. Of great excitement was the sharing of the new brand for the Alzheimer’s Society and what this might look like for Dementia Friends. There was a good consensus in the group on the options available so it will be interesting to learn of the final decision. Other items on the agenda were about potential advantages in technology to allow Champions to learn about their areas and the launch of the Champion Exchange on the website. It was another great opportunity to feedback what might be useful to Champions on this platform. A lot of discussion took place around how Champions need better links with each other and the sharing of local knowledge would be key, especially for those that are just starting out. So the Exchange will hopefully support some of the ideas we provided. And we all learnt something when Dementia Connect was highlighted as an excellent resource. Well worth looking into!
Alan Richardson is a member of the South and Champions Champions forum and attended the most recent South meeting in January/l
I first made the decision to become a Dementia Friends Champion and undergo the Champions induction in August 2014. Being a former carer for my late mother who had dementia – I saw it as a way of giving back for the support and advice that we had received. If anyone had said to me that just over a year later the opportunity would arise to be part of a Regional and National Champions Forum I would have expressed surprise. But this is exactly what has happened to me, and what an experience this has been from the start. I have become one of the Members of the Southern Champions Forum, and we have met five times now. Many of us strangers to one another at the first meeting, but how quickly we have became friends. Right from the start we have been involved in discussing developments for Dementia Friends and have also been able to share our thoughts on how the programme could look in the future. These Regional Forums also show a really good way of involving Champions, able to share our experiences of what has worked in our communities and how different they can be. They are also an excellent way of showing the appreciation of all the efforts that Friends make. I feel privileged to be part of this example of real partnership working, and to have the opportunity to share my thoughts with you.
There are spaces currently available in many of the regional Champions forums. Interested? Email your Dementia Friends Office for details or email the team at firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Champions forum’.
What is a webinar and how do I get involved?
Our team of Dementia Friends Officers (DFOs) run regular webinars on a range of topics to assist Dementia Friends Champions in their role. To see a list of upcoming webinars click here.
‘It’s good for students to start with a community perspective as most people with health conditions are community based’ – Professor Lesley Baillie, Dementia Friends Champion
Healthcare professionals at universities across England and Wales are encouraging their students to become Dementia Friends as part of their studies. We chat to the Dementia Friends Champions who are delivering the Sessions, to find out what kind of impact they are having.
Each month, one of our DFOs (Dementia Friends Officers) answer one of your Dementia Friends Champions questions. Charlotte Adams, DFO for the South West, answers this month’s question: Dementia Friends
How can Champions be involved in developing Dementia Friends resources?
Dementia Friends wants to be accessible to everyone and we are eager for Champions to be involved in developing new resources.
As part of Exeter City Football Club’s commitment to the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance (EDAA) the One Game One Community match event was held at St James Park. The event enabled over 40 people living with dementia and their families to enjoy complimentary tickets to the Exeter v Luton Town game.
Gina Awad who leads EDAA delivered two Dementia Friends sessions to staff at the Club, one in the Soring and the second as part of #TeamDementiaFriends campaign. The Club were inspired to go the extra mile recognising the need for further dementia awareness in the community.
A summary of the event included; all the players sporting t-shirts for their warm up illustrating “working towards a dementia friendly city’, EDAA had a stand in Red Square raising awareness, use of the community Hospitality box for specially invited guests, a feature in the programme and a bucket collection.
One attendee bought her 90 year old father to the match and encapsulated her feelings, she said
“It was such a lovely day yesterday. My father cannot remember how long it is since he last saw a football match, but he thinks it is at least 60 years. It is the only time my father and my son have had ‘man time’ together as well. For me, the day is a memory that I will always want to retain, along with the photos and the Exeter City FC hat I bought my father. He simply loved it every moment of the day, the hot dog, the hot chocolate, the game and spending time with family. My son, the football fan, is now trying to get the rest of the family along to a game to enjoy the atmosphere, so maybe Exeter City FC will have some new fans as well. Thank you for making a magical day for us all”.
Gina said “we have received some truly heartfelt responses as a result of the event and this illustrates how meaningful our work really is for people living with dementia in the community and their families. What was wonderful to see was the uptake from local care homes and their residents a focus that felt important to pursue”.
All that was needed for a perfect end to the day was a goal from Exeter City but it wasn’t meant to be!
We take feedback from our Champions seriously and are always looking to make improvements to the initiative based on what you tell us. Here are a few of the changes we’ve made this year based on feedback from you!
This month we have put together all the questions you asked our DFO’s through the year in one place. You can see the questions and click on them to see the answers!
This award celebrates the action taken by Dementia Friends Champions to raise awareness, challenge misconceptions and inspire change through running Information Sessions.
The nominations for this award demonstrated the passion and motivation of Dementia Friends Champions across England and Wales. Champions are not only running Information Sessions and helping others to learn more about dementia; they are then going on to inspire change in all areas of their communities. Here are the three finalists:
Gina’s work in the Exeter area to help support and empower people affected by dementia has had a real impact on the community. Since becoming a Champion back in 2014, Gina has reached over 1200 Dementia friends by delivering nearly 100 Sessions, both public and private.
Gina’s passionate style has inspired a cross section of organisations to not only hold Dementia Friends Sessions but to go on and take further actions that are making a big difference for those affected by dementia. For example, Gina has formed and developed partnerships with the local football club, cinema and a number of GP health centres in addition to many others. The results have seen dementia friendly cinema screenings, signage adjustments and a dementia awareness day booked for later this year at Exeter City Football Club.
Gina believes the Dementia Friends initiative has been the fundamental resource in creating local changes and inspiring so many in Exeter.
As one carer said to Gina:
“You are a true advocate for people living with dementia and their families. Thank you for all your work to improve matters for us”.