Ambulance staff have in both supporting and identifying someone with dementia.
Here's why some of our staff believe it is important to be a Dementia Friend.
Brian, who works on our Patient Transport Service, became a Dementia Friend after seeing the effects of dementia first hand through his mother-in-law.
“Anybody on our ambulance could have dementia," he said. “We may not be treating patients but what we can do is make the journey as safe and as pleasant as we possibly can.
“For me, being a dementia friend is like wearing a poppy in a way, it’s showing respect for people with this disease and saying we care and will help you as much as we can; that’s what we’re in this job for.”
Patient Transport Service team leader Amanda was so inspired by a dementia awareness exercise she took part in with the apprentices that she decided to replicate it for her own staff.
The exercise involves attempting to colour in a star, using only its reflection in a mirror, and is aimed at replicating the frustration dementia sufferers feel when they are unable to complete seemingly basic tasks.
She said: "The star exercise really gave me that insight of how simple actions become so difficult for someone with dementia.
“I ask staff to say one word after they've done it and usually it’s frustration.
“We deal with dementia patients on a daily basis so I think it’s really important for the crews to have knowledge about it to help them understand so we can look after them even better.”
Alex and Bob
Alex and Bob, who have both worked out on the road in Emergency Care and are now based in our training team, have a personal connection to dementia, having watched Bob’s elderly grandmother suffer from the disease.
“If you ask a group of people if any of them have been affected by dementia, we will nearly always get at least one,” said Bob.
“When you’re with someone with dementia, you can be faced with a whole range of emotions – they can be very happy to suddenly very tearful; they might have a clue who they are.
“For me, Dementia Friends is about making sure staff fully understand what dementia is and how best to support someone with it. It’s also about understanding how it can be for the family and carers and understanding why they might be a little bit abrupt.”
Alex added: “To me, being dementia friendly is about making it patient-centred and understanding what it must be like. It’s a case of showing compassion and understanding that the patients aren’t the only ones suffering but the carer too.”