Dementia group nominated for national award
A group which has given a ‘sense of purpose’ to people living with dementia has been shortlisted for a national award.
The Dementia Associates, created by the University of Salford’s Institute of Dementia, has been nominated for the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Awards 2016.
The group, made up of dozens of people living with the condition as well as their carers, has been shortlisted in the category of Dementia Partnership of the Year.
Members of the group, who meet to share help and advice, also contribute regularly to research and education carried out by the University, meaning academics looking into new ways of living with the condition are able to draw directly on their experiences.
Over the last year, members of the group have contributed to projects including the creation of games for people with dementia and carers, new ways of using technology at home while living with the condition, while they also took part in an advisory group for a research project focusing on the experiences of those living with young onset dementia.
The Dementia Associates also attended meetings in Maastricht and Brussels as they helped the University develop a European wide dementia MSc level programme.
One member described being involved with the group as giving them ‘a purpose and a sense of belonging’ while another said they ‘felt alive’ the first time they worked with the Institute.
The carer of another member said: “I know he really enjoys being part of the Institute. Ever since he had to give up his job, it’s been tough. But being involved here has provided him with a structure and a way of helping others and still being involved within a professional umbrella.”
The associates organised The Good Life Festival held at the University earlier this year, a conference attended by more than 70 people living with dementia and their carers enabling attendees to learn from each other.
The guests took part in workshops and heard from speakers about schemes enabling dementia sufferers to lead full lives, involving swimming, dancing, adventure holidays and connecting with nature.
The illustrator Tony Husband, whose cartoons have featured in magazines such as Private Eye for the last three decades, gave a poignant talk about his own father’s decline into dementia and talked about his book Take Care Son, in which he used humour to describe the situation.
Professor Anthea Innes, Coles-Medlock Director of the Salford Institute of Dementia, said: “Our Dementia Associates are at the heart of everything we do here in Salford, and we always endeavour to make the best use of their skills, knowledge and experience.
“This collaboration not only provides an important social outlet and a way of encouraging them to share advice, but it is also hugely beneficial to academics from a wide range of disciplines across the University who are working together on ways of making it easier for people to live with dementia.
“Being shortlisted for this award is a great honour and it is very gratifying for all our staff and the Dementia Associates themselves to see that our approach is being recognised nationally.”