By Ruth Owen
In December 2017 I wrote a blog about going for my Dementia Champion training in Leeds with the Older People’s Forum. I can’t quite believe that two years have passed and here I am writing a new blog about the journey of being a Dementia Friend. Where did that time pass?
I remember feeling slightly nervous, wondering if I will be able to deliver the inspiring training that I have heard from our local group, Ilkley Dementia Friends back in May 2017. I had attended their dementia awareness training as part of Ilkley’s drive to become a dementia friendly town and Dementia Awareness week. It was the most inspiring and motivating training I think I have ever received. Learning through activities, case studies, personal stories – you forgot you were learning! At the time something called the Dementia Alliance were encouraging communities, whether it be your town or your workplace to become dementia friendly. You may have seen their stickers and logos on police cars, ambulances, banks, airports, schools, local businesses and trades in your town. You may, yourself have had dementia friends training. It certainly encouraged Full Circle to become a Dementia Friends business and become members of our local alliances. Since then, the alliance has changed tac slightly and is now about creating a dementia friendly community with the emphasis being about that particular community supporting themselves to become dementia friendly through peer support and review.
Why is Dementia Friends and Dementia Friendly Community important? Dementia affects over 670,000 people in the UK and that number is likely to double in the next 30 years. It impacts heavily on families and forms the basis of health and social care policy. But, if we are totally honest with ourselves, most of us are quite scared of dementia. Scared of it happening to us, our loved ones, scared of people with dementia, worried about upsetting them, treat them differently. All very negative connotations. 47% of people with dementia do not feel part of their community.
Delivering the information sessions has been incredible. I have delivered 11 sessions and created 88 new dementia friends. They have been GP receptionists, our celebrants, our staff, WI groups, Marie Curie volunteers – all of whom either have a professional or personal opportunity to share their experience and pass the message along. I have also given short talks at community events about how to support people with dementia at the time of arranging a funeral for some one they love.
Of course, the pandemic has altered our opportunities to deliver the information sessions face-to-face but in keeping with the adjustments that we have all had to make, we can continue todo this by Zoom. My first time of doing this will be on the 14th August and I am looking forward to seeing how the resources that we used before have been adapted to this new way of delivering training.
For me, Dementia Friends information sessions enable you to not be scared, to feel that you can make a positive difference, to make that difference in yourself, in your business, in your community. The more people that get involved, the better we can be as a society to understand dementia.
To find out more about the session on the 14th August, please call Ruth on 01943 262626 or email [email protected]