Category Archives: Session Resources / Tips

Champion’s advice: How to get local businesses engaged with Dementia Friends

Dementia Friends Champion Rosemary Farr has had some brilliant success in approaching local organisations and getting them engaged with Dementia Friends. Here she talks about her experience and gives some invaluable advice for other Champions out there who are looking to connect with local businesses.

“After training as a Dementia Friends Champion, I was keen to start organizing some Information Sessions and thought that local community organizations would be a good place to start. However a number of email enquiries went unanswered and I asked my Regional Support Officer (RSO) for help. I was put in touch with some other Champions in my area and began to get some feedback and more ideas. Through one connection I discovered that there was a county-wide dementia awareness programme including a Dementia Action Alliance (DAA), and also that a branch of the charity Mind were working with the County Council to help make the area more dementia-friendly. These were key discoveries and contacting Mind and the DAA enabled me to be part of a much bigger picture and to deliver Dementia Friends Sessions in places that I had never imagined.”

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Advice on getting started from a Dementia Friends Champion


My name’s Teresa, I’m a Dementia Friends Champion and I live and work in Worcestershire. I did my Champions training in February 2014 but didn’t start doing sessions for a few months. My first one was a one-to-one session with a friend to try out the materials. I then asked some of my work colleagues if they would be interested and did a trial run to a group of 6 of them one lunch time. They all said they enjoyed it and found it interesting and we had a few laughs while doing it so that boosted my confidence to set up some more sessions.

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Dementia Friends Champions Webinars: A Guide

Our team of Regional Support Officers (RSOs) run regular webinars on a range of topics to assist Dementia Friends Champions in their role. To see a list of upcoming webinars click here.

Not sure what a webinar is? RSO Camilla put together this handy guide:

What is a webinar?
Short for Web-based seminar, it is a presentation or seminar that is run on the internet. The website allows an RSO from Dementia Friends to run a virtual seminar with Champions from across the country. Whether you live on Cornwall or Newcastle, Carlisle or Kent as long as you have internet access and telephone line you can join in.

So how does it work?
When you sign up to a webinar you will be sent instructions for a website to visit and a telephone number to ring so that you can join the seminar. The website has special software that allows you to watch a power point presentation, chat with the presenter and other Champions in a chat box and also vote in polls. The telephone number takes you to a conference call line where you can listen to the presenter. You can also un-mute your phone to ask questions. All webinars last about one hour.

Why should I join a webinar?
A webinar is a great way to learn, engage with the Dementia Friends team and meet other Champions. We are covering lots of different subject that will be really helpful for Champions such as how to promote your sessions, how to deal with difficult questions and tips to get going with your first session. Take a look at upcoming webinars.

How do I sign up?
Easy – just email the Dementia Friends team at with the subject line ‘Webinar’ and tell us which webinars from the list you would like to join.

How do I make a dementia friendly community?

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: 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:

Robyn Sweeney

Programme Officer – Dementia Friendly Communities


‘Do you want to create 1,000 Dementia Friends in a single morning?’

An email came into my inbox; subject ‘Do you want to create 1,000 Dementia Friends in a single morning?’ My gut reaction was ‘Yes please but how?’

This is how:

As part of Poole High School’s health fair, the school wanted to offer all the year 7, 8 and 9 students the chance to become a Dementia Friend. They explained that they wanted a special 25 minute session for groups of 170 pupils at a time. Eek! At this point I knew I’d definitely need some help. Thankfully, a group of eight brave Dementia Friends Champions stepped up to the mark.

Together with the Dementia Friends team I developed a special pilot Dementia Friends session that covered the five key messages and the bookcase analogy and ended with a call to action. On the day, each Champion facilitated a table of 20 pupils and I the bulk of the session from the stage. Each table had the missing key words from the five key messages. I went through each message and asked the pupils to hold up what they thought the missing word was. I then explained each statement getting the pupils to answer some questions as I went along.

It was an amazing experience to have 170 12 and 13 years olds shouting ‘NO’ at me when I asked ‘Do you think everyone who gets old gets dementia?’ or ‘YES’ when I asked ‘Do you think people with dementia can still dance?’ There was silence and concentration in the room when I told them about the lady with dementia who helped crack the enigma code and a definite nodding to ‘it just goes to show there really is more to the person than dementia’.

For the bookcase analogy, the Champions facilitating on the tables supported the pupils to fill a bookcase picture with memories and feelings. I then explained the impact that dementia can have on a person using their bookcases to illustrate this. I ended it with the message ‘Try not to get upset if someone with dementia forgets some things and to remember that how the person feels is more important than getting facts right’.

After this it was time for actions. From ‘I’m going to visit my granny more often’ to ‘I’m going to find out about volunteering’ to ‘I’m going to be kind and patient when I’m out and about’ every single action really will make a difference. There was a resounding ‘YES’ when I asked ‘Would you like to be a Dementia Friend?’ which was another highlight for me.

Afterwards, the head teacher told me that what she wanted to achieve by hosting the session was to demystify dementia for the pupils and plant a little seed in each of them that the school could nurture and build on. It really is about creating a Dementia Friendly Generation.

Thanks to Champion Katie Bolton from the Alzheimer’s Society Road show for all her organising and thank to Champions:  Jo Malyon, Ruth Crosland, Les Hickman, Sara Haysom, Jenny White, Anne Weston and Chris Scriven for helping out on the day.

Have you got connections to a school and would you like to run a similar session? Get in contact with your RSO and they will be able to support you in running this type of session.

Camilla Alfred

New resources for Dementia Friends Champions

Having enjoyed my volunteer role as a Dementia Friends Champion, I was excited to see in a Dementia Friends newsletter that Dementia Friends was recruiting a West Midlands Regional Support Officer and I jumped at the opportunity. Since joining the team, I have noticed several changes to resources for Dementia Friends Champions, which as an existing Champion I have found really helpful.

These new resources for Dementia Friends Champions are available online, so take a look! 

When I completed my training back in April, I came away feeling really enthusiastic and raring to go. However, by the time I had gathered my friends and family together for my first information session, feeling a bit nervous, I was concerned I wouldn’t cover all the key points within an hour. Armed with the new session plan and guidance notes, Champions needn’t miss anything from an information session again. The one-page session plan is a really simple tool to ensure you cover all the necessary parts of an information session. I have found it a really useful prompt when delivering sessions – it also helps keep my timing on track! I think the guidance notes complement the session plan really well, giving you the finer details required for each session. Everything you need to do can be found in the guidance notes with step by step instructions. I would really recommend Champions use these resources to guide the delivery of every information session – they really are helpful! Just log onto your dashboard and download them from the resources link.

There have also been some other developments to Dementia Friends resources since I became a Champion last April. Following Champions feedback, the ‘Penny’ exercise has now gone and many other resources have been created. Champions have informed us they really like The Bookcase Analogy but that a guidance sheet would be good. Having left it a few weeks before delivering my first session, I too felt I would have benefited from a guidance sheet. Trying to remember exactly what Carerra had said in my training proved difficult in practice. A new easy-to-follow guidance sheet is available online and explains in simple steps how to deliver the analogy well.

My favourite new resource has to be the infocards. In the training session I attended, Carerra mentioned that infcards would be arriving in the near future. Now they are here! It is really important all Friends receive an infocard, as they contain a lot of important information. Infocards remind Friends of the five things everyone should know and provide some examples of how to turn this understanding into action. They also have instructions for Friends to record their actions online as well as how to find further information, as they often have questions we cannot answer as Champions. If you haven’t yet ordered your infocards, don’t worry, it’s really easy. When you have attended Champions training and entered your code online, you will have access to your dashboard. Here you can order you infocards and badges, by simply clicking ‘order 50 badges/info cards’. Within 10 working days your order will arrive at your door. Each time you deliver an information session Friends should take away a badge and a card.

I hope you find these resources as helpful as I have, and remember to contact your Regional Support Officer if you need any further support.

Good luck in your upcoming sessions and let us know what you think of the new resources!

Ann-Marie Snelsen

Dementia Friends – Regional Support Officer