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.
Dementia Friends Champion Gina Awad tells us about the incredible amount of work she has been doing in the past year to make her area more dementia-friendly.
This time last year I was a Dementia Friends Champion, I still am, although things have progressed beyond belief. I had a vision in November 2014 to create a local Dementia Action Alliance, that vision is now a reality. Over 30 local organisations have committed to an action plan to implement change, support, and generally raise awareness working towards a Dementia Friendly Exeter.
People ask me “how have you achieved what you have?” My response is passion, determination, drive, oh and a dash of persistence, well a little more than a dash maybe!
A number of small businesses are working with Dementia Friends to help people affected by dementia. Given that it is Small Business Saturday (5 Dec), we wanted to highlight some of these people who are working with us to make their businesses more dementia-friendly.
Why get your organisation involved with Dementia Friends?
The most common answer when we ask businesses this question is that they want to respond to their customers’ needs and be able to support them as much as possible.
Organisations are realising that they can take action to help people with dementia, and are proactively stepping up to help. Anita Peters from Liverpool Mutual Homes (house repairs & maintenance firm) says ‘The majority of our employees are customer facing and are working in people’s homes. They would be the first to notice if a customer was experiencing difficulties. We wanted to educate our employees on how dementia affects people and how to assist those who have it.’
Andy Barry, Dementia Friends Champion and Adults’ Programme Leader at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester tells us what the theatre is doing to become more dementia-friendly.
Why did you decide to get involved with Dementia Friends?
I attended a Dementia Friends Session through another organisation I volunteer with and found it really useful and enlightening. Although I don’t have a personal connection with dementia I felt I wanted to do more to raise awareness so I decided to attend the Dementia Friends Champion training.
Dementia Friends Champion Dara Brown went along to the filming of Alzheimer’s Society’s new TV advert and delivered a Dementia Friends Information Session for the cast and crew. Here she tells us about her experience:
When I got a call out of the blue last week, asking if I would like the opportunity to see the Alzheimer’s Society’s new advertising campaign come together, I jumped at the chance. With behind-the-scenes access on the final day of filming, I was able to see exactly how a television advert is put together and it was not at all what I was expecting!
A couple of days before filming started, I visited advertising agency Fallon’s Central London office to give a Dementia Friends Session to a group of twenty-five Fallon and Pulse Films representatives, including the production team for the upcoming shoot. Despite a small hiccup when it was discovered a good chunk of the group didn’t know how to play Bingo (and the resulting outrage from several others!) the session ran smoothly. By the end, everyone had come up with some great ideas about how to turn their understanding into action, including thinking about how their future advertising campaigns could be adapted to support people living with dementia.
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:
As part of its pledge to help people with dementia live safely and independently for as long as possible, Kent Fire and Rescue (KFRS) continues to raise awareness of dementia. So far, four members of our staff have signed up to volunteer as Dementia Friends Champions and we will be encouraging others to follow. Over 200 members of KFRS have attended face-to-face Dementia Friends Information Sessions. Staff are using these awareness building Information Sessions to help ensure that families and carers are aware of the potential fire risks associated with people living with dementia in their homes. Through the home safety visits we carry out we are able to highlight preventative measures available to help reduce the risk of fires and accidents in the homes of people with dementia.
Our Fire-fighters who have already become Dementia Friends have found it to be a real eye opener. It’s given us a far better understanding of what it’s like to live with dementia, what to look for when attending incidents and how we can help people stay independent and safe in their own homes for as long as possible. Fire crews around the county are signing up to become Dementia Friends. One watch has confirmed that every member will volunteer as Dementia Friends Champions in their effort to make a positive difference to people living with dementia in their community.
During Dementia Awareness Week (18-24 May) KFRS attended a range of events and support groups to highlight the services our Vulnerable People team are able to provide people in the early stages of dementia to help reduce the risk of fire in the home.
Everyone needs to be aware of fire risks and the help available to them. A person with dementia may get forgetful, leaving burners on after cooking, or letting pans boil over. Phoning the fire service may not be the first thing you think of when you or someone you care for is diagnosed with dementia, but by making a free call to KFRS, we can provide practical advice and fit safety devices, such as smoke alarms and cooker shut off switches to help people stay safe.
Thames-side Green Watch and KFRS’s Vulnerable People Liaison Officer, Rachael Spencer attended a special ‘Dementia Adventure’ event in Gravesend (21 May), designed to encourage the development of networking groups for people living with dementia. To celebrate the launch of three Dementia Friendly Community forums in Dartford, Gravesham and Swanley, Rachael delivered Dementia Friends Information Sessions to volunteers at the Thanet Community Support Partnership meeting in Ramsgate (23 May). KFRS hosted two Dementia Friends Information Sessions at Sessions House in Maidstone (21 and 22 May) for Kent County Council staff and members of the public to get a better understanding of the fire risks associated with the care and protection of people with dementia in their communities.