The theme of Dementia Awareness week this year is to encourage people who are worried by dementia to confront their fears and address dementia directly. At Medacs Healthcare, we have ran a Dementia Friends session to raise awareness of the condition amongst staff members.
Dementia Friends Champions are trained volunteers. They run information sessions to encourage and inspire people to help individuals living with dementia.
We caught up with one of our Dementia Friends Champions to find out more about why she volunteers and help others learn about dementia.
Why did you train as a Dementia Friends Champion?
I worked in a residential home for two years, predominantly with clients living with dementia. My Granddad also developed vascular dementia after a number of strokes. I have seen some of the assumptions people make about clients and the negative ways in which they are treated. It is nice to change people’s assumptions and behaviours.
How did you find the training?
The training takes around 10 hours. It is run by the Alzheimer’s Society volunteer Regional Support Officers, who are then on hand to support you with your own sessions. The training is brilliant! The Regional Support Officers check each section of the session, and you deliver a section to the rest of the group before you become a Champion.
What does being a Dementia Friends Champion entail?
Being a Dementia Friends Champion means I can now run the Dementia Friends awareness sessions with a number of other people. This enables them to become Dementia Friends themselves. The Alzheimer’s Society is trying to reach and create four million Dementia Friends by 2020. They currently stand at around 1,500,000.
What does being a Dementia Friends Champion mean to you?
Being a Dementia Friends Champion means that I get a chance to change people’s views and perceptions of dementia, which will inevitably helps those who live with dementia.
Can you tell us about the information sessions you have run?
The sessions take around 45-60 minutes. They are all run by volunteers, and aim to change the way people think and talk about people living with dementia. This is implemented by five key messages. There are a couple of activities involved in the sessions, and some brilliant analogies to help people understand the ways in which dementia works.
We also stress that it is not a training session, it is an awareness session. If there are any questions from the public about an issue we don’t cover, then we can direct them to other websites, support groups and organisations. At the end of the session, all attendees have the opportunity to become a Dementia Friend. They are asked to commit to a dementia friendly action which gets sent to the Alzheimer’s Society.
What have you learnt?
Dementia affects more than just a person’s memory; it affects vision, sequencing abilities, motor skills, inhibitions and so much more.
What would you say to someone who was interested in supporting their community?
To attend a Dementia Friends session! They can be found online and are run all over the country by numerous volunteers. Committing to one dementia friendly action helps create a dementia friendly community that is more understanding and inclusive of those living with dementia.
Would you like to become a Dementia Friend? Find out more at www.dementiafriends.org.uk
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