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Leading London nurse trains MPs to be ‘dementia friends’

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The prime minister and his cabinet are among MPs trained to be “dementia friends” by Eileen Sills, chief nurse at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.

The Dementia Friends initiative, run by the Alzheimer’s Society, is intended to improve people’s understanding about dementia and the small things that can be done to help those with the condition and their carers.

It is a joint programme between the charity and Public Health England, with funding from the government.

In total, more than 40 MPs from across London attended the training session held last week by Ms Sills and Alzheimer’s Society chief executive Jeremy Hughes, where they pledged to become “dementia friends”.

“I’m delighted that so many London MPs have supported this pledge”

Eileen Sills

It included a screening of Barbara’s Story, the trust’s training film that demonstrates the effect which small changes to attitude, behaviours and actions can have on a person living with dementia.

The film is based on real life experiences and is designed to help everyone understand what it is like to live with this condition.

Ms Sills, who is also the clinical director for the London Dementia Strategic Clinical Network, said: “I am passionate about making London the first dementia friendly city, and I’m delighted that so many London MPs have supported this pledge today.

“We’ve seen it’s the small things that make the biggest difference – the smiles, the eye contact, the time,” she said.

“By raising this kind of understanding we can improve the lives of people living with dementia as they go shopping, play sport, go to museums, the cinema or theatre, and visit friends and family without fear,” she added.

To help them spread the word in their constituencies, the MPs were given a set of Barbara’s Story DVDs, a “little book of friendship” with ideas and tips on helping people living with dementia, and a badge to publicly show their support.

Nursing Times also supports the Dementia Friends initiative, with most members of the editorial team having undertaken a training session.  

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