HealthFirst Liverpool Dementia Friends Resource Review with Mersey Care

One of the things that we in the HealthFirst Liverpool Group asked for was training around dementia.

Vivien Mansfield from Mersey Care found that there is “Dementia Friends” training but thought that it would be best if we look at the resources – or review them – to see what we thought of them.

Once we’ve reviewed the resources Vivien and Suzanne will deliver the Dementia Friends training.

Vivien explained that today was about making us more aware of dementia.   Vivien asked us what we thought dementia was?

  •  Eric said “It’s where you forget things.”
  •  Kat said “It affects your memory.”
  •  Cally said “It affects your speech.”
  •  Shirley said “You forget basic things like how to hold a cup of tea.”
  •  Tracy said “Sometimes people get aggressive.”
  •  Tracy said “You forget where you are.”

Cally said “You remember your childhood but forget today.”

Tracy, Shirley and Cally have known people with dementia.

Vivien explained that lots of people say that people are “dementia sufferers”. It makes people think that you are not having a good life and are suffering. Vivien told us that she is here to tell us that people with dementia can live well.

Eric said “People are just like us and you shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover.”

Vivien explained that there are different types of dementia. One of them is Alzheimers – everyone had heard of Alzheimers.

We had the broken sentences resources where we had to match up the 2 halves of a sentence.

The first sentence was “Dementia is not ….. a natural part of aging.”

People didn’t really understand what ‘a natural part of aging’ meant.

Vivien then said “Getting old does not mean you will get dementia.”

People understood this statement and agreed that it was true.

The next sentence was “Dementia is caused by …….diseases of the brain”

Vivien explained that cells in the brain are changing how they pass messages on and the signal is weaker or not sending at all.

The next statement was “Dementia is not …….. just about losing your memory.”

People knew that it was about:

  • Losing speech or saying the wrong words
  • Losing things
  • Not being able to do things like use a knife and fork
  • Sometimes people are more sad or angry

We talked about it and we found out that it can affect the way people see things so people might not want to go out.

Cally said “we need to respect peoples space and not come in too close as they might see things differently and it scare people, or say we are going to move first so people aren’t scared.”

Eric said “We can speak slower to people so they can understand us better.”

The next statement was “It is possible … to live well with dementia”

Vivien asked if this was true. People weren’t sure. Most people we see with dementia live in nursing homes.

Vivien explained that people with dementia have jobs, are married or in relationships and do live well.

Eric asked if we could meet someone with dementia who works and is leading an ordinary life. Vivien said she will look and see if there is anything on the website.

The final statement was “There is a lot more to a person …. than the dementia.”

People didn’t understand this at first. Vivien told the group about an old lady who used to tap, tap, tap her fingers for 7 or 8 hours a day and it used to annoy people and no one knew why. When her family came to visit they explained that in the war her job was to pass messages in morse code and that was why she tapped.

Once people knew this they were more understanding about the tapping and remembered that the lady had a whole life that they did not know about.

People really understood and liked this example.

Vivien then showed people the bookshelves in their packs. How each shelf represented different stages in life.

How with some dementia you might not remember yesterday but can remember things that happened 20 or 30 or 40 or 50 years ago. So the lower shelves are still quite full but the top shelves that represent now are empty.

How other types of dementia the shelves of the bookcase are collapsed and lots of things have gone and are jumbled up.

The messages that people will take away from the sessions are:

Eric “people can get on with life and still have love and a life.”

Eddie “you can still be independent.”

Cally “Respect people’s environment and 1 in 14 people over 65 may develop dementia”

Kat “People remember their childhood/teenage years but not yesterday”

Tracy “It effects your communication in everyday life and you mix up your words.”

Shirley “You can put your clothes on the wrong order and it can affect how you do things”

The improvements we can make are:

  • To have a DVD clip of someone with dementia who leads an ordinary life
  • Change the wording on the 1st key message.
  • Make the font larger on the broken sentences
  • Maybe deliver the session over 2 sessions.

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