Champion jumps in at the deep end with massive first Session

Rather than easing in to her role as a Dementia Friends Champion and starting with a small first Session, Cecile Mallett decided to just jump right in at the deep end. Her first Session as a Champion was delivered to 80 Year 2 Physiotherapy students at the Cardiff School of Physiotherapy. Cecile tells us how the Session came about:

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Creating Dementia Friends for TV cast and crew

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!

Dara playing Dementia Friends bingo with the film crew

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.

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Small changes making a big difference

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.

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Taking action to help those living with dementia

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:

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Guest blog: A dementia-friendly theatre performance

Nicky Taylor, Community Development Manager at West Yorkshire Playhouse and Dementia Friends Champion, tells us about the dementia-friendly performance they recently ran at the Leeds theatre.

Going to the theatre is an experience many of us look forward to. In my role as Community Development Manager at West Yorkshire Playhouse in Leeds I have seen the profound impact a visit to the theatre can have on people living with dementia and their families. For the past 5 years I’ve been leading creative activities for people with a diagnosis of dementia and through these participatory projects I have supported many people living with dementia to see theatre shows. Starting with preparatory themed workshops, we also explore the set and costumes and meet the actors, to enhance their theatre experience.

A pre-show singing session where attendees learnt songs from the musical together. Those attending the dementia-friendly performance were encouraged to sing along during the show if they wished.

The positive responses I noticed in terms of concentration, communication, creative expression and laughter convinced me that a dementia-friendly performance was the natural next step. In early 2014 at West Yorkshire Playhouse, we started to explore what a performance of this nature might entail, consulting with people living with dementia and those who support them. How might individual experiences of dementia challenge us to re-think sound and lighting cues, or the actors’ performances? What is it like to arrive at our venue if you have issues with visuospatial perception? How could we make adaptations to support people who find it difficult to be in a busy environment? And how could we convince people to leave the house if they haven’t attempted to in months?

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Get inspired to #DoSomethingNew for Dementia Awareness Week 2015

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.

Val Mathewson ran a Session for her brother on his canal boat

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!’

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Taking Dementia Friends into schools

Dementia Friends Champion Emma has been delivering Information Sessions in schools. Here she tells us what the response has been like from the children and gives us some top tips…

“I wanted to run Dementia Friends Sessions in schools from the word go. I love the way children soak up everything like sponges, unlike adults, they have no pre-conceived ideas about dementia. Maybe they just see it as Grandma being funny but they never see it as a bad thing. I have worked with year 4 children upwards – every age group has got something out of it. Even when you think they’re not listening it seems to go in!

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Creating a more dementia-friendly NHS

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:

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A poem to celebrate 2014 & Dementia Friends

Regional Suppor Officer Philippa penned this wonderful poem looking back on 2014 and Dementia Friends.

Let’s celebrate!

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!