I started in the role on 3rd March 2014 and attended Champions training last week in Southampton, run by RVSO Sara Miles. I thoroughly enjoyed the day and found the Information Session inspiring. I have actually already held my first Information Session as a champion as I couldn’t wait to get started turning my new understanding into action! This role as a volunteer Champion is definitely something I will continue with, as watching people being captivated, particularly during the bookcase analogy, and understanding the initiative felt fantastic.
I was nervous attending the Champions training and just as nervous as everyone else when it came to presenting my part of the information session, but without this chance to practice and seeing everyone else doing it, I don’t think I would have felt ready to hold my own session for a long time!
My previous job roles have been within the Third Sector, providing legal advice and advocacy to vulnerable people, providing training to outside agencies and managing volunteers within the advice sector. I was also a volunteer at a charity for women and children experiencing domestic violence for five years.
My interest in the role of Regional Volunteer Support Officer sparked after witnessing the difficulties people living with dementia can face when doing something such as attending a hospital appointment.
When I was in a hospital recently an older couple were in the outpatient’s waiting room about to leave, when the lady said to the gentleman, “Now, do you need the toilet before we go?” to which he replied “no”.
The lady continued “remember we will be in the car for over an hour when we leave so if you need to go you had better go now”.
The gentleman agreed and the lady ushered him right to the toilet door. I have to admit, that even with my background and knowledge, I watched on thinking she was a bit bossy.
About 5 minutes had passed and the lady was still stood next to the entrance to the toilets, now looking a little concerned. A few more minutes passed and the lady looked increasingly concerned. Eventually she approached the man sat next to me and asked him if he would check the toilets as her husband who has dementia had gone in some time ago and she was worried he was unable to find his way out. The man agreed, although looked a little startled.
When he came back out he said that her husband was in a cubicle. The lady then entered the toilets to assist her husband at which point the security guard approached her to ask her to leave the men’s toilets. She was able to explain the situation and finally help her husband who had indeed gotten confused and could not find his way out.
For me this highlighted the need for a more dementia friendly community, as had we all attended one of the Dementia Friends information sessions before hand, I’m sure the lady and the gentleman would have had the help and support they needed to make a necessary trip to the hospital less stressful.
I am excited about being part of such a fantastic social action movement and creating many dementia friends in Wales. I am currently looking at locations and venues around Wales to run Champions Training Sessions, so if you know anyone in Wales that is interested in becoming a Champion, please ask them to register as a Champion on our website and to keep a look out on the site for training in their area.
For those existing champions in Wales, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have also started a Twitter feed @DFWalesRSO so please follow me if you are on Twitter.
I am looking forward to working with you all to make England and Wales more Dementia Friendly!
Regional Volunteer Support Officer – Dementia Friends Wales