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Riverside builds team of Dementia Friends as part of national awareness week

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Riverside builds team of Dementia Friends as part of national awareness week


Published by Susan Littlemore for Riverside in Care and Support and also in Communities, Health, Housing

Sara Davies, Scheme Manager at Stephenson Court (centre) with two volunteers showcasing Riverside’s Reminiscence Pod. Sara Davies, Scheme Manager at Stephenson Court (centre) with two volunteers showcasing Riverside’s Reminiscence Pod.

There are currently more than 800,000 people in the UK diagnosed with dementia. Riverside ECHG, a provider of specialist housing and support for older people, including those diagnosed with the degenerative condition, is raising awareness as part of Dementia Awareness Week (18 – 24 May 2014). 

Dementia describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. Dementia is caused when the brain is damaged by diseases, such as Alzheimer's disease or a series of strokes.

Within the UK’s rapidly ageing population, dementia is becoming an increasingly prevalent issue – it is predicted that there will be over a million people suffering from dementia by 2021.*

Riverside is raising awareness during Dementia Awareness Week by informing its own staff about the condition.

Riverside’s team, led by Quality Officer Ken Johnson and Team Leader Jeanette Kelsey are using their knowledge as Alzheimer’s Society-accredited Dementia Friends Champions to deliver awareness sessions throughout the week and to help build a team of Dementia Friends within Riverside.

Ken said: “The sessions aim to give people an understanding of the condition, how it affects people and what support is available. It will focus on five key messages to develop an individual’s understanding of dementia. I want to make people aware that it’s not a natural part of ageing, it’s caused by diseases of the brain (the most common being Alzheimer’s). I want to highlight the fact that there’s more to a person that the dementia.

“I will be conducting scenario-based activities to make people consider what they would do if they were caring for a dementia sufferer. I want people to leave the session with a planned action of something they can do to improve the life of someone with dementia.”

To support dementia sufferers Riverside has developed a Dementia Café at its Liverpool centre for older people, Stephenson Court. The café comes complete with a 1950’s ‘Reminiscence Pod’ (as featured on BBC’s Dragon’s Den) which helps people connect with memories from their past by using a pop-up stand designed as fifties-style lounge.

To mark Dementia Awareness Week, Riverside is hosting a ‘Memory Lane Café’ event at Stephenson Court on Friday 23 May. An afternoon cream tea will be served and clients will be invited to play memory games and quizzes related to bygone eras.

Riverside is also investing in developing new dementia-friendly housing and will be launching its specialist extra care centre in North Tyneside, Weetslade Court. The scheme will provide independence and security for people aged over 55 and includes bright, colourful design to help tenants navigate around the centre and a dementia-friendly garden with a focus on supporting its residents to keep active and to get involved in the local community.

Each year, Riverside provides specialist housing services for 6,000 people aged over 55. Its extra care housing gives older people with care needs the ability to access innovative, high quality and flexible service provision. 

The Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme aims to create one million Dementia Friends by 2015, who will have all committed to an action to help support people live well with dementia.


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