What inspired you to become a Dementia Friends Champion?
I signed up to become a Champion the week my Gran passed away, who had dementia. I realised after attending an Information Session how little I had known about it. With both the parents of my best friend also very suddenly developing dementia at about the same time, I felt compelled to do something, and spread the word on how with the right level of support and understanding, it is possible to live well with dementia.
It has also helped me with my day job, as I work in a Learning & Development team at RBS. I help design and develop, learning which equips staff with the skills and knowledge, to enhance the overall experience of our Customers in Vulnerable Situations.
For some Champions, language is not a barrier when it comes to running Sessions. Catherine Lewis-Dobson recently ran two Sessions at the request of the Hyde Community Action, for Bengali speaking women. Given that she does not know Bengali, and the attendees spoke little English, she used the services of a Community Worker who had attended one of her English Sessions to be an interpreter. Cathy tells us more about how the it worked and gives some tips for other Champions:
Dementia Friends Nigeria recently launched with the help and support of Alzheimer’s Society in the UK. Here Kiki, founder of Dementia Friends Nigeria and Rossetti Care Ltd, tells us more about the impact the programme is having in Nigeria and how Alzheimer’s Society is helping countries around the world to launch Dementia Friends.
She knelt down, sobbing uncontrollably and muttering, “Please, God forgive me! Baba, please forgive me, please help me, I did not know, I did not understand…..”!
A Million Hands, Alzheimer’s Society’s partnership with the Scout Association, launched back in October 2015. Since the launch, Scouts across the country have been choosing dementia as the issue they want to tackle and have been going on to learn more about the condition and the actions they can take to support people living with dementia. One of the ways they have been doing this is by taking part in a Dementia Friends Information Session, run by our volunteer Dementia Friends Champions.
In January, Champion Peter Ley ran a couple of Sessions for Cub Scouts and Explorer Scouts and, in the process, made the 1000th Scout Dementia Friend! We spoke to Peter to find out a bit more about the Sessions:
Paul Myles at On The Radar tells us how they are giving people living with dementia a voice with the Dementia Diaries project.
This wasn’t a typical social media campaign, or a typical advent calendar for that matter. In December 2015 we teamed up with Dementia Friends to bring you Door Into Dementia, a digital advent calendar featuring 24 stories from our Dementia Diaries project. Each day throughout the advent period, we featured stories from our Dementia Diarists who opened a door into their worlds and gave us a unique insight into day-to-day life for people living with the condition.
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!’
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.
What a difference a year makes !
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.’
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!