The hour- long session on Chorley Road in Swinton celebrates reaching three million Dementia Friends, and informs people on actions they can take, big or small, to help people with dementia.
The information sessions are open to everybody, and are run by Dementia Friends Champions, who are volunteers who encourage others to make a positive difference to people living with dementia in their community. They give people information about the personal impact of dementia, and what they can do to help.
This session was run by ‘Home Instead Salford and Worsley’, on Tuesday afternoon (November 12). Susan Robinson and Jo Shaughnessy ran the session. They opened the Salford office in February 2016, after finding Home Instead while seeking care for Ms Robinson’s mother.
A Dementia Friend is somebody that learns about dementia so they can help their community. Three million people have now taken the pledge to be one.
Ms Shaughnessy said: ‘It is such a rewarding job, I love it. These sessions can be quite upsetting, but we aim to create a more dementia- inclusive society.
‘If you are in public with somebody who is living with dementia, and they start causing a scene, you can feel embarrassed. But if society became more clued up, they would understand what was happening, and be more patient.’
The actions to help don’t have to be time-consuming. From visiting someone you know with dementia to being more patient in a shop queue, every action counts. Dementia Friends can also get involved with things like volunteering, campaigning or wearing a badge to raise awareness.
The informal session offered light refreshments. It was interactive, with a game of dementia bingo. Ms Robinson said: ‘We were rated Outstanding by the CQC. We don’t do 15- minute visits to our patients, we like to do a thorough job and take our time. Sometimes we have eight– hour long visits.’
Globally, the numbers of people living with dementia will increase from 50 million in 2018 to 152 million in 2050, a 204 per cent increase.
Too many people affected by dementia feel that society fails to understand the condition they live with. Dementia Friends help by raising awareness and understanding, so that people living with dementia can continue to live well. According to dementiastatistics.org, in the UK, dementia is the only condition in the top 10 causes of death without a treatment to prevent, cure or slow its progression.
Ms Shaughnessy said: ‘Familiarity with the caregivers helps the patients. They might not remember a name, but they are likely to remember an emotion attached to a person.
‘Dementia is not just about memory loss. It is also about perception, motor skills and communication. But never lose sight of the person, they are more than just Dementia, you may just have to find them in their past.’
One quarter of hospital beds are occupied by people living with dementia who are over 65, and 850,000 people are estimated to be living with dementia in the UK, according to dementiastatistics.org/statistics-about-dementia.
The Dementia Friends website says: ‘Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.’ If you can’t make a face- to- face session, there are online videos to inform you.
They aim to run sessions once a month. Updates about the next session will be on the Home Instead website– or Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/events/424238614949569/. They now want to reach four million Dementia Friends.
Anyone who wants to help people with dementia in their community can do. Sign up to be a Dementia Friend here: https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/WEBArticle?page=join-options .