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.
‘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.
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!
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”.
Dementia Friends Champion Fiona Joines saw the parallels between the aims of Dementia Friends and Girlguiding and set about getting her guiding colleagues on board with the initiative.
‘I have been aware of dementia for some time and was particularly fascinated and saddened by Terry Pratchett’s journey that he so eloquently shared with the world via his documentaries ‘Choosing to Die’ and ‘Living with Alzheimer’s’; both of these gave me a little insight and inspired me to do something. We are all likely to be impacted by Dementia in our life and so, I feel we have a responsibility to learn a little about it. That’s where Dementia Friends came in. It made sense to me that people needed to be able to talk about dementia and to feel comfortable doing so and I knew with the facilitator skills I have, I could help people to do this.
Here is an inspirational story from Sylvia Oram, a Dementia Friends Champion who recently ran Information Sessions with 90 eight-year-old children and worked with a local residential home. Here is her story of how she went through the Sessions and has bought about a change in how the kids understand people living with dementia.
I’ve been asked to run an info stand to raise awareness of Dementia Friends – what can I do?
Thanks so much for helping us to promote Dementia Friends! Having a stall is a great way to talk to people about what Dementia Friends is and why they should sign up, and can help us to reach lots of people who haven’t heard of Dementia Friends.
Dementia Awareness Week 2016 is done and what a week it was! Dementia Friends Champions across the country were running thousands of Information Sessions, organisations were encouraging their staff to get involved and thousands of people across different communities were becoming Dementia Friends and turning their understanding into action.
Here are a few highlights from the week:
Ian Hind, Regional Support Officer for the East Midlands, gives us an update on the changes made to the Dementia Friends Champions resources.
As you may be aware, we are always looking to develop the Information Session resources you use to deliver so we have a few small changes. Many of these changes have come about from input from yourselves as Champions, so it is exciting to be able to enhance these with your support.
There are some changes in wording and questioning to help get either a little more clarity or value from parts of the Information Session.These changes won’t impact on the resources you use for the Bingo/Broken sentences activities. You can find these up to date resources on your Champions dashboard.