Rather than easing in to her role as a Dementia Friends Champion and starting with a small first Session, Cecile Mallett decided to just jump right in at the deep end. Her first Session as a Champion was delivered to 80 Year 2 Physiotherapy students at the Cardiff School of Physiotherapy. Cecile tells us how the Session came about:
‘I was once a student at that very school so the surroundings were familiar as were the faces of some of the lecturers who had been students with me 20 years ago! The difference that day was that I was at the front of the lecture theatre giving the talk and not sitting in the back row taking notes. I had been invited to give the Session as part of the students ‘Care of Older People’ module through my links with the school. As a physiotherapist working in a care home I know the importance of a good understanding of dementia in the effective and dignified care of older people. Of course, I was nervous beforehand, but I was confident in my presentation skills and I had practiced the talk many, many times in my bedroom.
‘The practical elements of the Session worked well as it encouraged everyone to focus on the subject and interact with each other, and me. I did have an ‘interesting moment’ when we were doing the “Who is Right” activity. I had accidentally given one of the students a blank slip of paper! Luckily, he was not phased by it and we all laughed together when this mistake came to light!
‘The Session went so quickly and I really did have to be aware of whizzing through it because of my nerves and my enthusiasm! Overall, the Session went well – I can truthfully say I enjoyed it in the end! I would say I benefited from lots of practice beforehand – confidence comes from knowing your stuff and being passionate about the subject. Plus, the students and their tutors felt the Session fitted in really well with their ‘older people’ module. They had done work on the theory side of dementia and this gave them more practical understanding i.e. how it feels to have dementia and how to interact with someone with dementia.
‘Would I do anything differently next time? Well, there has been a next time when I presented to 9 ladies in my book club. It was a different experience with more personal interaction and I think I enjoyed a smaller group more for this reason. Again, I felt prepared and organised and I think you have to feel this to present effectively and get the message across
‘I had become interested in dementia because some of my clients at the care home where I works are living with dementia. After attending a Dementia Friends Session as part of a physio study day, I made the decision to get more involved.
‘Attending the Session totally made me reflect on my interaction with people with dementia and how a little information could go a long way in making their lives better. When asked to decide on an action I put down “train as a Dementia Friends Champion” and I did! Having now delivered some Sessions, I am so glad I chose to volunteer for Dementia Friends as a Champion- it is so worthwhile on a personal and a societal level.’