At the end of last year we asked Dementia Friends Champions to share some of their 2015 successes. Here are three examples of the fantastic work Champions are doing in their communities to make them more dementia-friendly:
A group of students from Teesside University in Middlesbrough were inspired to take action to support people living with dementia in the run up to Christmas.
Dementia Friends Champion Jackie Simms ran a Session for a group of students who then decided to plan and host a Christmas party for people affected by dementia in their community. Jackie said it was a ‘fantastic day’ with over 100 people attending:
‘We had a Christmas Buffet, Bingo, a raffle with lots of prizes, entertainment with songs and dance by the students of the university followed by dancing (for those who had their dancing shoes on – which were quite a few). I can only hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did!’
Students at Dinnington High School have been taking action to help their school and community become more dementia-friendly.
When Rotherham Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) was set up, the Alliance decided upon a number of different sectors they wanted to work on to become more dementia-friendly. One of these sectors were schools and colleges and Louise Booker-Parkinson, Health & Social Care Lead for Dinnington High School, attended an Alliance meeting. Kathryn Rawling, DAA Co-ordinator, says that Louise ‘completely got it – joined the alliance and set off on a mission!’
This mission involved a range of activity taking place at Dinnington High School to help support people living with dementia. Seven students became young Dementia Friends Champions as part of the pilots run to create under 18 Champions. Those Champions then went on to deliver Information Sessions to other pupils and created over 400 Dementia Friends!
Dementia Friends Champions Sheila Goodall delivered a Session for her husband who put his learning to good use. Sheila tells us the full story:
‘I am a Dementia Friends Champion, and my husband attended my first Dementia Friends Information Session some time ago now. Yesterday he went to our local supermarket and when he came home he told me that he had had an encounter with a lady on the way to the newspaper counter.
He described the lady as very elegant and debonair looking, she clasped his elbow and called him Malcom and asked what he was doing. He explained he was buying a newspaper and she told him they had already got the papers. With that, another lady, whom he presumed was her carer, stepped in and apologised for what had happened.
When a customer came in to speak to Francesca Hartley, Neighbourhood Coordinator for a housing association in Brighouse, she put what she had learnt at a Dementia Friends Session to good use. Francesca tells us her story:
‘After attending a Dementia Friends Information Session, I had a light bulb moment this morning.
‘A customer came in saying he had lost his key to his bungalow, this isn’t anything new. When the reception staff did some digging the tenant mentioned that he had no furniture in the bungalow and he thinks he was robbed and they locked the door on the way out.
Dementia Friends Champion Trudi Rogers shared this inspiring story with us which demonstrates the value of running Dementia Friends Information Sessions no matter how small.
‘I ran a session for my two children aged 7 and 8 who really engaged with the activities and seemed to enjoy it. We shared the pictures on Twitter and Facebook to help raise awareness.
When Mark Shone, Community Safety Manager at Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, became a Dementia Friend at work he thought it would give him a better understanding of some of the vulnerabilities they need to take into account when undertaking home safety checks and other fire prevention work. What he didn’t expect was to draw on that learning outside of work:
For Dementia Awareness Week 2015 (17-23 May), we are encouraging all our Dementia Friends Champions to #DoSomethingNew – it could be that you run your first outdoor Session at the local park, do a Session in the middle of the night or run a Session for a group you’ve never delivered to before.
Lots of our Champions are already running interesting and unusual Sessions across the country, such as Mandy Rowlands who ran a Session at a city farm in Southampton. The farm was looking to run farm experience days for people with dementia and so Mandy stepped in to help.
‘The staff were keen to have a little more understanding of dementia and so we invited their staff to become Dementia Friends and I ran the session for them at the farm. It was great as they introduced me to all the small animals including a sugar glider!’
Regional Suppor Officer Philippa penned this wonderful poem looking back on 2014 and Dementia Friends.
2014 is coming to an end
What a year it has been!
From one Dementia Friend to another Friend
Let’s recall everything we have seen
We’ve seen our ticker go up and up
Over 1/2 a million friends made
This isn’t just down to good luck
And I apologise if this sounds cliched
It’s all down to hard work and passion
Of which we should be very proud
We’ve put our words into action
Everyone, let’s spread the word loud
Friends, Champions and many more
You’ve helped to raise understanding
Never forget who we’re doing this for
And why we keep on expanding
Let’s break down the stigma and fear
Let’s talk about dementia
Let’s make the messages clear
To put on everyone’s agenda
Together we can make a difference
So a big thank you to all
For all your effort and persistence
Young, old, great and small
Bring on 2015!
I work within the Dementia Friendly Communities team at Alzheimer’s Society where we have the ambition to create over 75 Dementia-Friendly Communities across England by March 2015. Work to achieve this is well under way with over 70 communities already signed up to the process and achieving great success for people living with dementia and their carers and families within their local areas.
A Dementia Friendly Community is one in which people with dementia are empowered to have high aspirations and feel confident, knowing they can contribute and participate in activities that are meaningful to them. Based on the available evidence we were able to identify 10 areas of focus that people with dementia wanted to see in any dementia friendly community.
Dementia Friends Champions are playing a key role in creating dementia friendly communities, using their networks and connections to improve public awareness and understanding so that people with dementia are supported by their community.
Establishing a local structure is the key to the success and sustainability of creating a Dementia Friendly Community and to achieve this we encourage communities to start by establishing a steering group to advise the action plan within a community based around the specific needs of people living with dementia and their carers in their local area.
A local Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) is a greatly effective model as it enables the bringing together of local stakeholders, including people with dementia, other individuals and organisations. You can see if there is a Local Dementia Action Alliance in your area by visiting the local alliance webpage: www.dementiaaction.org.uk/local_alliances. If you do not have a Local Dementia Action Alliance established in your area you can look to form one starting with the guidance available on the Local Alliance page above – once you have this steering group in place and are driving forward change for people with dementia locally you will be able to apply for recognition for your community by completing our online application form
If you are a community that would like to apply to join the Dementia Friendly Communities recognition process please read carefully this information that explains how the process will work and then fill out the online application form. The process is designed to enable communities to be publicly recognised for working towards becoming dementia friendly and to show that they are following common criteria, that are based on what we know is important to people affected by dementia and will truly change their experience.
If you have any questions to ask before applying please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Programme Officer – Dementia Friendly Communities