Public-spirited students at Wellington School have opted to become part of a national movement called Dementia Friends which aims to teach people what it is like to live with the condition and how they can support those living with dementia to feel a part of the wider community.
Fourteen sixth-formers and Year 11 students attended an initial briefing session run by Jason Lejeune, training manager at Camelot Care whose head office is in Wellington, and then made a visit to the specialist local nursing home.
The organisation has been providing nursing and specialist dementia care for 15 years, and now operates nursing homes in Wellington, Plymouth, Bridgwater and Yeovil. The majority of their residents are people living with symptoms dementia.
Jason Lejeune talked to the students about the ways that people who wish to become Dementia Friends can help those with the condition. The youngsters have chosen to become involved as part of Wellington School’s Community Volunteer Programme
Jason said: “From spreading the word about Dementia Friends to your own family and friends, to visiting someone you know living with dementia, every action counts, and there are many small ways you can help.
“The students were very interested to hear what they could do if they choose to become a Dementia Friend, and this introduction was then followed up by a series of visits to Camelot House and Lodge.
Jason, who was trained by Alzheimer’s Society as a Dementia Champion to promote the Dementia Friends movement, described to students that their participation can be tailored to suit their own inclinations and time available.
Jason said: “A Dementia Friend might get in touch and stay in touch with someone living with dementia, they might volunteer for an organisation that helps people with dementia, or they could campaign for change, for example by signing up to Alzheimer’s Society’s campaigns to improve the lives of people with dementia.
“It was really interesting to get initial feedback from the students, many of whom are clearly motivated to do what they can to help.”
Sarah Middleton, who organised Jason’s visit to Wellington School and the students’ visit to Camelot House and Lodge, said: “The students are now considering ways of turning their understanding of dementia into a practical action.
“What’s great about this scheme is that they don’t have to commit to doing something time-consuming – they understand that every action counts, and they’re looking forward to being of some practical assistance.”
“It’s a real eye-opener for them and great experience at this point in their school careers as they start to think about the world of work.”
Camelot Care has recently been awarded its second Quality Hallmark Award by the National Gold Standards Framework (GSF) Centre, the UK’s largest provider of training in end-of-life care, both times with ‘Beacon’ status, the highest accolade possible. Its Wellington home was also shortlisted for a national ‘Care Home of The Year’ award, for GSF.