Sam McSorley, Barbara Wells, Helen Laybourne and Maureen Morien show their support for the Dementia Friends campaign

North East Ambulance Service throws weight behind dementia campaign

All staff set to become Dementia Friends

Thousands of people living with dementia in the North East are set to receive extra support from one of the region’s most caring organisations.

The North East Ambulance Service (NEAS) is training its entire 2,500 workforce to become Dementia Friends in a bid to help staff understand the condition and how best to help those who have it and their carers.

Currently more than 34,000 people across the North East have dementia and this figure is predicted to double over the next 30 years according to government statistics. Frontline staff at NEAS regularly come into contact with people living with dementia and this initiative will help ensure these patients are identified early on and receive the most appropriate care.

As well as giving an insight into what it’s like living with dementia and the associated behaviours and medical problems, the training includes communication techniques.

The Dementia Friends training programme will be rolled out across NEAS over the next 12 months through training sessions with the Alzheimer’s Society, Dementia Friends Champions’ information sessions and e-learning. NEAS has also produced a number of information booklets for staff to support this training. 

One of the first to be trained to become a Dementia Friend is NEAS Chief Executive, Yvonne Ormston. She said: “Ambulance crews are so often on the frontline when it comes to helping people living with dementia. That’s why it is so important that all NEAS staff are fully informed and educated in how to spot the tell-tale signs and the best way to deal with someone living with dementia. By making this commitment that all our staff will become Dementia Friends we are hoping to lead the way in creating a dementia-caring community where those living with the condition can feel included and supported.”

This week (15-21 May) is Dementia Awareness Week. As well as the Dementia Friends’ programme, NEAS will be holding a ‘dress down Friday’ event to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society.

Frances Child, Dementia Action Alliance Coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Society, said: “This proactive approach to dementia taken by NEAS should be applauded.

“We are thrilled that they have made such a firm commitment to better understand the needs of people living with the condition.

“It is vitally important that frontline services can spot signs of dementia and understand how to engage effectively with people who have it.

“The Dementia Friends sessions the workforce has signed up for mark an important first step towards achieving that goal.”

To find out more visit www.alzheimers.org.uk

To see why some of our staff feel it is important to be a Dementia Friend, please click here.

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Copyright 2011 North East Ambulance Service Trust

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