Primary and Secondary level school pupils in Mid-Ulster have joined forces with Milesian Manor Lifestyle Care home and Linking Generations NI to be trained as ‘Dementia Friends’.
The ‘Little Visitor’s’ initiative will see pupils from both The Rainey and Magherafelt Primary School regularly visit Milesian Manor to spend time with the residents to learn what it’s like to live with Dementia and Alzheimers and then turn that understanding into action. Research has shown numerous therapeutic benefits for both the children and people living with the conditions.
An expert team comprised of; mental health nurse Catriona Doole, Nurse Manager at Milesian Manor alongside Linking Generations and Dementia Friends will help to educate the children and create a programme of activities which will be enjoyable and educational.
Cara Macklin, Director, Milesian Manor Lifestyle Care Home explains: “We are delighted to be launching our Little Visitors Dementia Friends programme today which will have so many life-long benefits for both the children and our residents.
“Our aim is to educate the children on how they can talk, interact and spend time with people living with Dementia in our community. We want to break down any barriers, help the children understand what it is like to live with this condition and the residents get so much enjoyment out of it as well.”
Caitriona Doole, specialist mental health nurse and nurse manager at Milesian explains further;
“By starting this at such an early age, we hope that this empathy, understanding and education will extend through their lives.
“So many of our residents love to see young people coming into the home. In our experience people living with dementia have a higher level of positive engagement when interacting with children.
“It is truly outstanding to see the transformation when the children come for their weekly session. The smiling and conversation increases tenfold.
“Research has also shown that the children who get involved in programmes like this experience fewer behavioural challenges and improved social development, it also increases self-esteem and increases a child’s ability to interact and make friends, while also inducing greater smiles and more conversation in the older generations.
“It also allows our residents to be able to teach children things and vice versa. Activities will include everything from board games to calligraphy, table quizzes to nail painting and this week we even had the children teaching the residents ‘The Floss’.”
Catriona concluded: “At Milesian Manor our focus is on not only meeting all nursing, health care and industry requirements but that we also go one step further in caring for our residents overall wellbeing and ultimate happiness, part of that is to keep our residents as integrated into the community as possible.”
Around 850,000 people live with dementia in the UK. Latest figures from the Alzheimer’s Society show that nearly 20,000 of these live in Northern Ireland. Across the UK, the vast majority (almost 95%) of those living with dementia are over the age of 65.6 There are, however, 42,325 people under 65 who have dementia.
The Dementia Friends programme, developed and administered i by the Alzheimer’s Society, is the biggest ever initiative to help change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.
Linking Generations is a Northern Ireland based charity which brings generations together in the places where they live and work. All LGNI work attempts to ensure that Northern Ireland is a place where all generations are respected, understood, connected and engaged together in their communities
To find out more about Milesian Manor Lifestyle Care home please visit www.milesianmanor.com or call 028 7963 1842 to arrange a visit.