Graduation of Dementia Champions

Northern Irelands first Dementia Champions pictured at a graduation ceremony in the Glenavon Hotel in Cookstown.
Northern Irelands first Dementia Champions pictured at a graduation ceremony in the Glenavon Hotel in Cookstown.

Northern Ireland’s first cohort of Dementia Champions has been unveiled at graduation ceremony in Cookstown.

The 49 graduates are the first to emerge from a new programme rolling out specialist training to 300 people working across the statutory and independent sectors in health and social care in Northern Ireland.

The first round of graduations reflects the culmination of a five day one-to-one, hands-on, bespoke learning initiative as well as an ongoing virtual learning programme delivered via a specialist Dementia Training Team from within the North West Regional College.

The overall programme will engage 300 participants in total with each participant responsible for developing and implementing a Dementia Change project directly benefiting dementia sufferers in multiple environments across the health and social care system.

There are approximately 20,000 people living with dementia in Northern Ireland, 13,000 having received a formal diagnosis. Diagnosis rate is higher in NI at 64.8% - the UK average is still only 45%. It is estimated that by 2051 in NI this number will rise to 60,000.

Ryan Williams, Director with Connected Health and Lead Co-ordinator for the project said: “The graduates today are dedicated and focused professionals who simply want to effect real change to the lives of people who are affected by dementia. The focus of the programme has been to provide knowledge, expertise and support which can be applied in a practical context to deliver maximum positive impact for dementia sufferers, family and the multiplicity of stakeholders involved in the management and treatment of this increasing health and social care challenge.”

Programme graduate, Nadine Magee, from the Southern Trust added: “Becoming a Dementia Champion has taught me so much and helped me to see life through the eyes of someone with dementia. I would love to see everyone in the healthcare sector have an opportunity to take part in this programme.”

Douglas Adams, CEO, Connected Health, commented: “The Dementia Champions Programme has been a cornerstone of a wider regional strategy. Improving Dementia Services in Northern Ireland was launched in November 2011 and is supported by Atlantic Philanthropies, the NIO and the Department of Health. The challenge posed by dementia is a key priority in Northern Ireland and we are proud to be delivering a programme which is at the heart of meeting the challenge across the entire health and social care system.”

If you are interested in becoming a Dementia Champion please contact catriona@connected-health.co.uk or call 02871867620.