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Dementia Awareness Week 2016

Dementia Awareness Week 2016

Dementia Week.
Picture credit: Dr Cathy Greenblat Love, Loss and Laughter

Dementia Awareness Week 2016

Dementia Awareness week ran from 16 to 20 May 2016 and aimed to raise awareness about dementia within society. This year the week particularly encouraged people who are concerned about dementia to confront their worries by addressing dementia directly and seeking information and support.

At Leeds Beckett University we ran a range of events across both campuses during the week, in collaboration with local partners, to help raise awareness about dementia among our students, staff and the wider community. Events included:

  • Dementia Friends Sessions.
  • Lunchtime ‘quick-bite’ research seminars.
  • A public lecture.
  • Readings of the play ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’.

All events were free to attend.

We also used the week as an opportunity to say thank you to the people living with dementia, their relatives and care home staff who have been taking part in research and other projects with us, by inviting them into the University to join some fun, celebratory events including a Sporting Memories Reminiscence Activity.

The week also saw Leeds Beckett officially sign up to the Dementia Action Alliance and commit to working to become dementia friendly. Students, staff and University services such as the Students Union, Human Resources and Estates were invited to suggest the action plan pledges that we will commit to as an organisation. These were collated during the week with up to ten chosen to represent our commitments for the coming year.

For any enquiries about dementia awareness week please contact

Overview of activities

Plus Icon Dementia Friends sessions

Throughout the week, various locations
A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it's like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action - anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend. Dementia Friends is about learning more about dementia and the small ways you can help. From telling friends about Dementia Friends to visiting someone you know living with dementia, every action counts. When attending a Dementia Friends session you will learn more about dementia and how you can help to create dementia friendly communities. You will receive a Dementia Friends pin badge on completion of the session.

You can book one of the team to come and deliver a session to groups of students or staff teams, either during or outside of dementia awareness week. Please just get in touch to discuss.

Plus Icon ‘Don’t Leave Me Now’ by Brian Daniels – play reading

Tuesday 17 May
14:30-16:30, Headingley Campus
18:00-20:00, City Campus

Dementia is not a condition confined to older people. It can develop in people in their 40s, 50s and 60s. The impact on and consequences for families is profound. Don't Leave Me Now is inspired by two real life stories. It explores the impact of early onset dementia on two contrasting families; husband and wife June and Chris, and their daughter Lauren and same-sex couple Judy and Penny. It communicates the ups and downs of life on the dementia pathway over a number of years. It effectively balances despair with humour by portraying the everyday lives of five people making a journey into the unknown as the disease progresses. All of them struggle to comprehend and cope with the nature and extent of the drama unfolding before them. Each responds differently to the challenges that lie before them. Gradually anger, confusion and denial give way to coping, acceptance, resolution and friendship.

The play reading was followed by questions and discussion involving the audience and actors.

Plus Icon Lunchtime ‘quick-bite’ research seminars

Seminars took place every day throughout the week, various locations
Participants brought their lunch and listened to a short overview of some of the exciting dementia-related research that is taking place here at Leeds Beckett University and by colleagues we are working with from other local Universities. Sessions included a 20 minute presentation and then 10 minutes for questions and discussion.

Plus Icon Public lecture: Why being dementia friendly matters

Monday 16 May, 17:30-19:00, City Campus
This public lecture included short presentations from Wendy Sharps, Nicky Taylor and Claire Surr, who discussed why having a society and organisations within it that are dementia friendly is important.

Wendy Sharps is an active campaigner in making people aware about dementia and in promoting a positive outlook on life. She was diagnosed with early onset dementia in 2009 at the age of 40. She has two daughters Shauna and Kayleigh and husband Paul. Wendy talked about some of the difficulties she experiences living with dementia, the importance of staying positive and how supportive services make a difference to her.

Nicky Taylor is the Community Development Manager at the West Yorkshire Playhouse. She talked about the approaches the Playhouse have taken to develop special ‘dementia friendly’ performances of plays and the impact this has had on people living with dementia and their families.

Claire Surr is Professor of Dementia Studies at Leeds Beckett University. She is leading a number of research projects that aim to improve services and support for people with dementia and their families. Claire provided a summary of why it is important that we live in a society which is dementia friendly and where all of us are dementia aware. She provided a short outline of how Leeds Beckett was involving students and staff during dementia awareness week, in creating our Dementia Action Alliance action plan that will summarise our commitments to becoming dementia friendly.

Events for people with dementia, their relatives and carers: The events below were by invitation only

Plus Icon Sporting Memories Reminiscence Event

The use of reminiscence to stimulate people was once frowned upon and yet it’s something we all do all the time. Sport is a powerful medium for many people, providing memories of great games, sporting legends and marvellous victories, but also the friendships made and the sense of community that playing or watching sports brings. Talking about sporting events and cultures of the time helps to give people their identity back and reconnect them to the people and generations around them.

Through donations, grants and commissions, The Sporting Memories Network provides organisations and volunteers with the tools, knowledge and resources to run meaningful sessions. To date they have worked with over 400 organisations and trained 500 people to use their techniques. The Sporting Memories Network has a newly established partnership with Leeds Beckett University, with the aim of developing the evidence base related to sports based reminiscence and activity groups for older people. We hosted a Sporting Memories reminiscence event for older people who are members of our partner local community groups. This event was an opportunity for the University to say thank you to local groups who support our work.

Plus Icon West Yorkshire Playhouse ‘Our Time’ music event

West Yorkshire Playhouse is proud to be a dementia-friendly theatre. They offer regular opportunities for people living with dementia (older people and people with young-onset dementia) and their partners or carers to attend creative sessions and theatre performances. The majority of their staff are Dementia Friends and some have attended further training to specifically support customers with dementia. Dementia can be an incredibly isolating condition, but they know that there is hope and joy to be found through exploring our creativity in a supportive and understanding environment.

Our Time sessions include drama, art, poetry, song, movement and dance – some sessions are just for people with a diagnosis of dementia, whereas other sessions also welcome partners or family members. Our Time focuses on using our imaginations and opinions in the here and now, rather than remembering facts, so it’s impossible to be wrong!

The Playhouse hosted a special Our Time session for Dementia Awareness week. It included an opportunity for group members to talk to staff from Leeds Beckett University about their experiences and to identify areas they think the University should be researching and supporting through its dementia related work.

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