We are encouraging students to become more dementia aware through the Dementia Friends initiative.
The Alzheimer’s Society have developed an initiative to encourage people to learn a little bit more about what it’s like to live with Dementia and then to turn their understanding into action.
Cardiff University is a centre for research excellence in Dementia (Dementia Research Insitute) and our School has a strong research interest in the disease (Dr Katie Featherstone). Dementia affects people in different ways and everyone's stories are different.
The vision for our School is to train all of our 2000 (approx) undergraduate students as Dementia Friends to help them becoming more dementia aware. We are incorporating the training into the curriculum across all 9 undergraduate programmes so to promote behaviour change in the care they offer as a healthcare professional.
We are very proud that many of our students trained as Dementia Friends have engaged with a one day training course via Alzheimer’s Society to become a Dementia Friends Champion and have taken action to train others and further raise public awareness through community projects, industry and other health professionals.
At present over 1000 undergraduate students have been trained as a Dementia Friend, with each student being encouraged to turn their understanding from the session into a practical action.
We are also actively training Dementia Friends through academic staff engagement in the community. Dr Sue Barker has completed Dementia Friends training with the following:
- 50 Cardiff University staff during PHEW and Dignity weeks
- 25 Local women
- 35 local people in Grangetown
- 70 primary school children
- 28 Welsh Scout Leaders
The result has been that our students are now leading the way in Dementia training for other students in Cardiff and in the wider community, and making a positive difference to people living with Dementia.
Dementia Friends training is about behaviour change and some of the actions described by participants include:-
- being more patient in queues,
- spending time trying to understand,
- challenging a public organisation about their facilities
Following a session in February 2018, photographs of our physiotherapy students with their Dementia Friends badges were uploaded to Twitter and the response has been overwhelming! Currently the tweet has had 12,183 impressions and received likes and comments from across the globe. The Alzheimer’s Society (Dementia friends) also retweeted and replied to thank us for their support!
“Amazing – so many #DementiaFriends under one roof, love it! Thanks for all your support”
Dr Sue Barker's work in this area has also been presented at national and international conferences. Dr Barker has become an elected member of regional (Wales and UK) Dementia friends’ champion’s group at a strategic level