Thursday morning found me at The Thames Medical Hub at Walton Hospital. No, I wasn’t there for any medication but for a very important appointment.
The TMH had shown interest in the Weybridge Dementia Action Alliance and had decided to become a member. Nine of their staff gave up an hour of their time to take part in a Dementia Friends Awareness session and Nikki Bird the Dementia Manager at Elmbridge Borough Council was facilitating the course.
The Dementia Friends Awareness sessions were put together by the Alzheimers Society to help people understand more about the various types of dementia, over a hundred at the last count, and what it is like to be living with dementia.
You don’t “suffer” from dementia you live with it and have to carry on your daily tasks until, in some cases, you are unable and then care has to be involved.
We were asked to write down the number of actions it takes to make a cup of tea. I started with picking up the kettle but, for some, the first action would be to find the kitchen, then find the kettle, take the lid off the kettle, turn on the tap, fill the kettle with water, turn off the tap, put the lid back on the kettle. We listed 26 actions before we even started making the cup of tea !! And, if you were visiting a person living with dementia and he/she offered to make you a cup of tea you would probably say “ sit down, I’ll do it for you “ but this does not help. Assist them by all means but don’t take the task away from them. It gives them pleasure and they are left with a sense of achievement. Also, when you have left them, although they may have forgotten your visit, they are still left with a feeling of happiness.
It’s amazing how much one can learn in an hour and also realise how much there is to learn to support someone living with dementia.
The All Our Yesterdays service which takes place in church at 2.30pm on 15 January helps bring back memories of school assemblies and Sunday School. Music in general evokes many memories and here at St. James we are doing our bit to support those living with dementia, not forgetting their carers.
The aim of the Weybridge DAA is to become the most dementia friendly town in Surrey. We want businesses to sign up to sending their staff on this hour long awareness session then they can display the Weybridge DAA logo in their businesses. Anyone living with dementia, who may become ill or disorientated while out on their own or with a carer, and seeing the logo will know that the staff have some knowledge and will be able to help.