I was very pleased and proud recently to be able to attend the Dementia Champion training. So what is Dementia Friends? And what is the difference between a Dementia Friend and a Dementia Champion?
Dementia Friends is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative and is funded by The Cabinet Office. The purpose of the Dementia Friends is a social movement whose aim is to raise greater awareness and understanding of dementia. They are trying to do this by having 1,000,000 (a million) people in England who are Dementia Friends by 2015.
So what is a Dementia Friend? It is someone – anyone who has attended a Dementia Friends awareness session and agreed to become a Dementia Friend. That person, that lovely new Dementia Friend will have agreed to do something positive to raise awareness around dementia. It could be something as small as changing your language from “suffering from dementia” to “living with dementia” or it could be something much bigger, like running a marathon to raise awareness.
By why is this so important? The numbers of people with dementia are rising and it is a huge cost to England (and the world) both financially and socially. There are people with very severe dementia and it is hard to see how their lives can be improved, but they can. For people who are in the earlier stages, there is a lot that can be done to help them. Small changes can make a big difference.
At the dementia conference that I attended at the end of January 2014, the very lovely Angela Rippon interviewed 3 people with dementia and asked each of them how we could make a difference for them and the answers were: 1. Be nice, 2. Inclusion and engagement, 3. Every person has value & worth.
It’s not hard to do these 3 things, we should all be nice to everyone, not just people with dementia, then if they have dementia & we don’t know about it, then we will have been nice to them. Inclusion & Engagement – just because someone is different, doesn’t mean they stop being a person, so talk to them & find out what they want or need, if anything. And the final one, Everyone has worth, of course they do, they always have, we just need to remember this a bit more often.
So Dementia Friends (the movement) is about raising a level of understanding & acceptance of dementia and taking a small or big action to make the lives of people with dementia better. A Dementia Friend (the person) is taking that small or big action.
A Dementia Champion is someone who has volunteered to present Dementia Friends awareness sessions. I became a Dementia Champion in February 2014, so if anyone would like to contact me to attend a Dementia Friends awareness session, please contact me.