Dementia Friends Champions: Ask your DFO

Ask your RSOEach month, one of ourDFOs (Dementia Friends Officers) answer your Dementia Friends Champions questions. Philippa Tree, DFO for London, answers this month’s question:

Dear DFO

Do you have any advice on delivering Information Sessions to large groups of young people?

Phillipa’s answer:

You’re delivering a Dementia Friends Information Session to children – fantastic! However it’s now dawning on you that it’s going to be to quite a large group… don’t panic! It is possible to deliver a Dementia Friends Session to a large group of children.
Below are some tips and guidance to help you create as many young Dementia Friends as possible.

Preparation before your Information Session

Visit the venue
It’s ideal to visit the venue and become familiar with the room you will be in beforehand, so you have no surprises on the day. This will also help you to visualise how you will deliver the activities, how much space you will have etc.

Speak to the person in charge
Speak to the person who usually manages the group of children –a teacher, scout leader etc. They may have some group management strategies. e.g. ‘listening ears’ ‘fingers on lip that the children follow to be quiet or to focus. They will also be able to give you tips on which children work best with which, and if you’re delivering the session at the right level.
Remember that they can help. By speaking to them beforehand you can agree on what would happen in certain situations. That way you know what to expect, and can carry on without getting flustered.

Co-deliver to split the group down
Depending on the venue and group size, you may prefer to work with another Champion to manage the size of the group, or perhaps split the group in half and deliver half each.

Factor in extra time
Be aware that with larger groups, things will inevitably take longer. Make sure you give yourself enough time and keep an eye on the clock while you’re delivering. Make sure there is a clock you can see, or wear a watch.

Expect noise
If you have a large group of children in one room, it’s going to be noisy. First of all accept this and don’t worry. Just because they’re not in silence it doesn’t mean they’re not learning. However if the noise levels get unmanageable ask the person in charge to help you to bring them back to your attention.

During the Session

Ask for volunteers
If you’re delivering an activity such as who’s right with older children, or making the connections, ask for volunteers instead of getting everyone up. 8-10 volunteers tend to work best.
Try closed questions
In large groups it can be a little daunting for the children to speak out in front of others. Closed questions may encourage quicker, shorter answers that feel less intimidating. E.g. do you think all old people get dementia? Do you think that means that younger people can get it too?

Hands up
During the activities and discussions you may want to ask for people to raise their hands rather than shout out their answers. This means you can involve more of the group and get answers from all around the room

Keep it interactive and visual
You may want to create some visual aids when delivering to assembly size to help keep their attention. Perhaps ask for a couple of volunteers to be the bookcases. If the young people are too shy maybe a couple of staff would consent to being wobbled!

Good luck and enjoy!
As always if you would like to talk through a Dementia Friends Information Session or have any questions, please remember that your DFO is there to support you.

2 thoughts on “Dementia Friends Champions: Ask your DFO

  1. Jean Saunders

    Please Philippa is it possible to do a champions course fro the Carers and some staff where I work if I can promise at least 10 people .
    Thank you

    1. Dementia Friends Post author

      Hi Jean – Thank you for your email, it’s really great to hear that you would like to get involved with Dementia Friends.

      We do not run Champions Induction days exclusively for one organisation or group, but where we have planned to run an Induction in your area, we may be able to arrange for an agreed number of places to be held back on one or more sessions for a short time in order for your colleagues to register. These are dealt with on a case by case basis, and the requesting organisation is required to demonstrate what plans they have to enable the people they are requesting spaces for, to create around 100 Dementia Friends each.

      Instead we recommend that you encourage your carers and staff to attend a Dementia Friends Champion induction day in your area. We run these regularly across various locations all over England and Wales. Those that attend this induction will become volunteer Dementia Friends Champions and will be able to deliver Information Sessions to create Dementia Friends. You can search for upcoming Champions inductions days near you here:

      Please do not hesistate to get in contact if you have any questions.

      Best wishes,

      The Dementia Friends Team

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