In this blog, TEDI-London Student Recruitment Officers Helen Staniland and Jamie Gayya reflect on being Dementia Friends Champions.
It is estimated that by 2030, there will be 82 million people living with dementia worldwide. Inspired by TEDI-London’s 2021 Agenda campaign of tackling global challenges, and the 2020 summer school programme to create dementia-friendly community solutions for Canada Water, we attended a one-day ‘Dementia Friends Champion’ induction organised by the Alzheimer’s Society.
The students on the summer school programme are receiving a similar information session today in order to better understand dementia, and we wanted to share our experiences so that readers can learn a bit more about both the induction and information sessions, and the massive impact they have.
The induction was full of engaging activities, useful resources and memorable stories that enabled us to learn more about dementia, how it affects people, and what practical actions we can take to better support the dementia community, such as volunteering, raising awareness with family and friends, or simply being more patient when queuing in a shop. We also got the opportunity to do a practice run of the ‘Dementia Friends Information Session‘ we are now able to deliver, and received useful tips and guidance on public speaking and how to enhance audience engagement.
“As Dementia Friends Champions, we have made a commitment to inspiring and encouraging others to make a positive difference to people living with dementia in their community.”
By the end of the day, we left equipped with the information to help us to answer people’s questions about dementia, in addition to gaining knowledge on the range of resources available to receive further information and support.
Before the induction, we both had limited knowledge of dementia and how it affects people’s day-to-day lives. Learning about the personal impact of dementia and what we can do to help was an extremely worthwhile and fulfilling experience. In particular, it was interesting to hear about the myths surrounding dementia and the importance of the language we use when we talk to and about people living with dementia. For example, in the media, people living with dementia are often referred to as “victims” or “sufferers”. We learned that a dementia diagnosis does not define a person, and, with support, people can live happy and healthy lives. It is also important that all people living with dementia are not labelled in the same way and are recognised as individuals with their own unique needs. It was encouraging to meet people from different sectors, including health and social care, charities, and the local council, and hear about how other organisations are taking steps to be dementia friendly.
We now feel confident in speaking to our peers, families, and members of the community about dementia and we wear our Dementia Friend badges with pride. At the end of the induction, we were invited to share our own personal commitment to raising awareness of dementia and the work of the Alzheimer’s Society. In addition to volunteering to run Dementia Friends Information Sessions, we have chosen to use social media and our own network of friends and family to talk about our experience and encourage others to take action.
As part of the TEDI-London Summer School 2020, 147 summer school students from 21 different countries will attend a virtual Dementia Friends Information Session. This will mark the start of the process of developing the dementia knowledge and understanding to help them to create innovative solutions that lead to dementia-friendly environments.
We feel proud to work for an organisation that is actively committed to raising awareness of dementia on a global scale and are eager to see the summer school students develop their ideas.
To find out more information about becoming a Dementia Friend or attending a Dementia Friends Champion induction, visit https://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/.