It’s Dementia Awareness Week!

Dementia Awareness Week runs from Monday 29 May until Sunday 4 June.  Each year, this week of activity aims to raise awareness of dementia and help improve the lives of people with dementia, their families and carers.

All week our staff have been taking part in activities so that we can raise awareness of dementia within the team at WAEML.  Many of our staff are impacted by dementia of our loved ones but we also see dementia in our work – some of our service users have a diagnosis of dementia, some have abusive partners with dementia.  When dementia features alongside domestic abuse it can often carry misconceptions or practice can be simplified and focused on the dementia rather than the domestic abuse – this can leave victims/survivors vulnerable.  It is important that we identify issues and risks through specialist assessment to help in developing successful safety and intervention plans.  By focusing on dementia this week, we hope to improve our practice and frame better informed responses when dementia features alongside domestic abuse. 

Jen leads our age equality group who have steered our work this week within WAEML and explains:

“Dementia is an illness that has been in my family and I know that’s the case for others in the staff team too.  Dementia also often features for many of service users at WAEML, being able to co-ordinate a raising awareness campaign this week means a lot, I am proud to be part of this and want to thank all the staff who have supported all the activities and fully engaged in the training and workshops all week.  We hope that this work will help us provide a supportive work environment for staff impacted by dementia but also that we can provide an informed response to any of our service users who are impacted by dementia”.

Throughout the week the age equality group arranged for Michael Huddleston (dementia advisor for Edinburgh & Lothians) of Alzheimer Scotland Dementia Friends to provide an online training input to staff.  The staff would like to express our thanks to Michael, this session was informative and really helpful.  Following the training we have shared resources with our staff and service users about local help, a range of community and national resources and helplines and also shared some tips on how best to communicate with someone who has dementia.

Communicating with someone who has dementia: 12 Helpful hints

  1. Be Calm and patient.
  2. Face the person, speak clearly and slowly.
  3. Make sure you have their attention by gently touching their arm and saying their name.
  4. Use short, simple sentences and say exactly what you mean.
  5. Try and get one idea across at a time.
  6. Allow plenty of time for the person to take in what you say and to reply.
  7. Try not to confuse or embarrass the person by correcting them bluntly.
  8. Use questions which ask for a simple answer.
  9. Don’t ask questions which test their memory, eg “Who am I?” or “What did you do Yesterday?”
  10. Talk about familiar people, places, and ideas.
  11. Use the names of the people you are talking about instead of he and she. It will remind the person who you are talking about.
  12. Use facial expressions and hand gestures to make yourself understood.

Do you need help?

If you are a woman or young person living in East Lothian or Midlothian who is being subjected to domestic abuse you can contact us for support on 0131 561 5800.  Our support lines are open Monday – Friday from 9am – 4pm. 

Please let us know if dementia is also a feature and we are happy to discuss how this impacts on your situation and what additional measures need to be put in place to address your safety and ongoing support.  Our staff also have details of local dementia drop-in, community groups and information services and would be happy to share details with you.

Further help and resources:

Further information on local and national services is available from: Michael Huddleston, dementia advisor – 0131 654 1114 or