Following Mental Health Day and National Alzheimers Month recently, we at the 3fivetwo Group feel that it is important to maintain awareness of a mental disease which can affect anyone. Dementia, a neurological disease which affects memory and brain function, can be debilitating for those effected by it and severely affect their quality of life. But it’s not only those suffering from the illness whose life it has an impact on, family and friends suffer too as they see their loved one changing. There is no cure but there are steps that can be taken to ensure life remains enjoyable and full, one of the most important being that sufferers loved ones know how to take care of them.
Following Mental Health Day and National Alzheimer's Month recently, we at the 3fivetwo Group feel that it is important to maintain awareness of a mental disease which can affect anyone. Dementia, a neurological disease which affects memory and brain function, can be debilitating for those effected by it and severely affect their quality of life. But it’s not only those suffering from the illness whose life it has an impact on, family and friends suffer too as they see their loved one changing. There is no cure but there are steps that can be taken to ensure life remains enjoyable and full, one of the most important being that sufferers loved ones know how to take care of them.
At 3fivetwo Training Academy we are offering free dementia care training courses with an official certification once the course is completed. Kelly Barbour is part of our Dementia Training Team and she answered some questions about Dementia and our Training Academy programmes.
Q: Do you feel there is a stigma surrounding dementia in that people are afraid or ashamed to be open about it?
K: Stigma surrounding dementia does exist and it is a primary concern for both those that are living with dementia and family members who support and care for them.
Thankfully this is something that has been recognised by the NI Executive who recently launched NI’s first public awareness campaign entitled #stillme. It is hoped that this campaign will help to reduce stigma by raising awareness and understanding of the disease as it is about the ‘person’ and not the illness.
Q: Many feel dementia is an illness only the elderly are susceptible to, is this a common misconception and can younger people be affected as well?
K: Whilst dementia is most prevalent amongst the older population, it can also affect younger people. Memory loss is one of the key symptoms, however there are other symptoms such as increasing difficulty with tasks and activities that require concentration and planning; as well as changes in mood or behaviour that is out of character. If anyone is concerned they should visit their GP as an early diagnosis is advantageous in ensuring that the person receives the appropriate support from the outset.
Q: Do you feel there is a lack of awareness and information out there for the illness?
K: I think that there has been a general societal lack of understanding around dementia for a long time. However I feel that positive steps are being taken to address this. The TV adverts currently being aired as part of the public awareness campaign feature real people living with dementia, talking opening and honestly about how they feel and how they should be treated. When a person receives a diagnosis of dementia, it can sometimes take time for both them and their family to come to terms with. Often they feel alone and isolated so it is important that they know there is support available.
Q: What services do Training Academy offer in regards to training and courses?
K: Funded by the NI Executive, Public Health Agency and Atlantic Philanthropies under the Dementia Together NI project team, the Training Academy is working across the South East Trust area to promote and deliver training opportunities for family carers. A series of two hour workshops covering a range of key themes will be delivered by experts in the field of dementia with the aim of supporting the family member in their caring role. The sessions are free to attend and the themes covered will help informal caregivers to manage and cope as the dementia progresses. They will also be supplied with local information and details of other agencies and organisations that will be able to assist them in the future.
Q: How will the training benefit new carers and those being cared for?
K: The programme will benefit family carers by equipping them with the practical skills, knowledge and confidence to better support both themselves and the person they care for. Sessions also take place in accessible and safe environments where those attending can take comfort in the fact that they are in a room with a group of people who share similar experiences. Expert trainers are also there to support, guide and advise them throughout their learning journey.
Q: What kind of reaction has the course received from those of have done it and how has it helped them?
K: The course has been exceptionally well received and feedback has been fantastic. Testimonials from participants who recently completed the programme in Ards and Dunmurry include:
‘I don’t feel alone anymore’
‘This programme was invaluable’
‘I can now see the light through a forest of trees’
‘I can now talk about dementia whereas before I couldn’t’
Q: What advice would you give to someone who may need to care for a loved one/knows someone who may and is interested in doing the course?
K: I would advise anyone in this situation to get in touch with us. The first step is always the most difficult but I have seen first hand the positive impact these workshops can have. I know that they can make a difference and carers who have engaged in the training have admitted feeling more confident, supported and less isolated as a result.
Free 3fivetwo training courses for dementia care are happening across the country with workshops running in: Lisburn, Newtownards , Bangor, Downpatrick, Comber & Ballynahinch (morning, evening and weekend workshops available).
Our workshops focus on improving your understanding of dementia and providing expert training on how to best care for those suffering from it. The programme also allows you to meet others in similar positions and gain further insight, whilst also enabling you to join a caring community and create a broader support network.
For more information please visit: www.3fivetwotraining.com
Or telephone: 02890735273
Or contact Kelly directly at: E: firstname.lastname@example.org