My name is Claire Taylor and I work as a Health Improvement Lead for the Public Health team at Warwickshire County Council.

I became a Dementia Friend in 2013 after attending a one hour Dementia Friends Information Session. At the end of the information session, we were asked to think of a dementia friendly action to do after the session. This could range from wearing the Dementia Friends badge, further increasing our knowledge about dementia, finding out more about services and support for people with dementia, being more patient and understanding when out and about in the community, keeping in touch with a person with dementia, supporting carers of people with dementia, or spreading the word on social media and encouraging others to sign up. No action is too big or too small.

My action was to consider ways I could support the creation of more Dementia Friends throughout Warwickshire. In October 2014, with the full support of the Director of Public Health in Warwickshire (Dr John Linnane), I organised for a local Dementia Friends Champion to deliver a Dementia Friends Information Session to the Public Health Team. After a thoroughly engaging and interesting session, the entire team became Dementia Friends!

The photograph below shows our team proudly displaying our Dementia Friends badges:Public Health FriendsDr John Linnane is on the front row, second from the right. Just behind him (wearing glasses) is Cllr Bob Stevens who is the Chairman of Warwickshire County Council for 2015-16.

Dr Linnane’s dementia friendly action was to spread the word about Dementia Friends and encourage other organisations to get involved. This included the Clinical Commissioning Groups and District and Borough Councils in Warwickshire to name a few.

The enthusiasm for Dementia Friends inspired three members of the Public Health team (including myself and my manager, Dr Charlotte Gath) to become Dementia Friends Champions. We received training and various resources to enable us to deliver Dementia Friends sessions.

We had plenty of interest for Dementia Friends sessions and so within a few weeks each of us had delivered our first information sessions. The feedback was brilliant. Staff commented that they found the information sessions ‘really interesting’ and ‘thought provoking’, and that they ‘learnt a lot’. This feedback inspired me to consider what else I could do to support the creation of Dementia Friends.

Earlier this year, Warwickshire’s Dementia Friends Challenge was launched; it aimed to create 10,000 Dementia Friends in Warwickshire. As part of the Challenge I have had the privilege to deliver Dementia Friends Information Sessions to a number of different groups and teams.

I have been fortunate to work with other Dementia Friends Champions from Warwickshire (there are about 20), who are so enthusiastic and committed to supporting people to live well with dementia and creating dementia friendly communities.

We now have over 9,000 Dementia Friends in Warwickshire, which is a fabulous achievement in just a few months! In Warwickshire, there are estimated to be over 7,500 people living with dementia and so there are now more Dementia Friends in Warwickshire than people with dementia.

So, becoming a Dementia Friend is a really positive thing to do, and does not take much time – either an hour if you attend an information session or just five minutes if you sign up online.

You can become a Dementia Friend through any of the following ways:

1. Attending an hour long Dementia Friends Information session. Everyone who attends a session and wants to become a Dementia Friend will get a Dementia Friends badge and information card. You can book a place by visiting the Dementia Friends website www.dementiafriends.org.uk and searching for a local session.
There are sessions open to the public in Warwickshire during World Alzheimer’s Month (September 2015). These are as follows:

4th September – 9.30-10.30am
The Jubilee Centre, Alcester, Jubilee Hall, (off St Faith’s Road), Alcester, B49 6AG

18th September – 10-11am
Atherstone Library, Atherstone, CV9 1AX

19th September – 2pm-3pm
Anya Court Care Home, Rugby, 286 Dunchurch Rd, Rugby CV22 6HX

2. Groups may want to hold a Dementia Friends Information session, perhaps as part of their regular meeting. Sessions last up to an hour. If you would like to find out more about this please email: dementiapartnership@warwickshire.gov.uk

3. Organisations can register with Dementia Friends, to access a suite of resources and information aimed at helping members of the organisation understand dementia and how it may affect a person. Registering will also enable you to keep a record of the number of staff in the organisation who have signed up as a Dementia Friend. Find out more on the Dementia Friends website, Dementia Friends website

4. Watching a short video on the Dementia Friends’ website Dementia Friends website Go to ‘Watch our online video’; Enter your details and watch the video to become a Dementia Friend. Then enter your address to get your FREE Little Book of Friendship – full of more helpful tips and ideas – and your Dementia Friends badge through the post. It takes just five minutes.

Please show your support by becoming a Dementia Friend –
why not sign up for an information session or sign up online today!

Thank you.

Claire Taylor

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