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In the final two weeks of January, we invited our partner charity the Alzheimer’s Society into our offices to deliver Dementia Friends Awareness training to staff who had volunteered to participate.  The 45-minute sessions were held in our Bristol, Cardiff, Edinburgh, Leeds and Solihull offices, with  all sessions well attended.

The purpose of the training is to help everyone who attends to understand what dementia is and what living with the condition can be like. The sessions also aim to reframe how we think and talk about dementia: the disease is usually spoken about in terms of stigma and negativity, and so the Alzheimer’s Society wants to get everyone to move away from this, speaking instead about the condition in a more positive way, changing the vocabulary we use to talk about dementia and focusing not on what people with dementia cannot do but what they can achieve.

Key messages about dementia

The training emphasised five key messages about dementia:

  • It’s not a natural, inevitable part of ageing;
  • It’s caused by diseases of the brain;
  • It’s not just about losing your memory – it can affect thinking, communicating and doing everyday tasks;
  • It’s possible to live well with dementia;
  • There’s more to a person than their dementia.

Sessions were based around a game, with the trainer reading aloud statements about  dementia: attendees chose missing words to complete the sentence from a bingo card, with each word a springboard for further discussion about Alzheimer’s and its effects. It was a fun, informal way of thinking around the subject (with the added bonus of a prize for the first person to get a line!).

Another extremely thought-provoking exercise involved participants being asked series of questions about tasks they thought someone with dementia was capable of doing, from making cheese on toast to working at a charity shop. People’s answers varied enormously and this task succeeded in challenging perceptions we all hold about people living with dementia. The message everyone who participated took home was that we should look to the person and their personal history before assuming what they will or will not be able to do. There was also discussion around memory and emotion, using the bookcase analogy.

The session ended with each person pledging to take one action, such as encouraging other people to become Dementia Friends or supporting Alzheimer’s Society campaigns. Attendees were also encouraged to become Dementia Friends themselves – there was a high take-up rate at the sessions.

For more information about Lyons Davidson’s charity activity, visit our fundraising page.