Dementia expert helps Premiership rugby players become Dementia Friends

A dementia expert from the University of Plymouth has empowered eight team members from Sale Sharks Rugby Club to unite against the condition.

Ian Sherriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, who is also an Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador and Dementia Friends Champion, ran the Dementia Friends session last week.

The Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends initiative aims to change the way people act, think and talk about the condition, so everyone gets the care and support they need, not just in healthcare environments, but in their community too. The scheme was launched in 2013 to tackle the lack of understanding around dementia which means that many people with the condition face social exclusion.

Ian, whose work on dementia has been recognised and simulated in countries as far afield as China and Singapore, said: 

“As someone who is totally committed to helping society tackle the many challenges that people with dementia, their families and carers face daily, I am delighted to support Sale Sharks walking rugby for people with dementia. There is an increasing recognition that some highly vulnerable groups of people experience, loneliness and isolation, this project will enable individuals to be part of the inclusive rugby community."
Charlotte Adams, Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends Regional Officer said: 

“Staff from Sale Sharks Rugby Club have made a major stride in raising awareness about dementia by becoming Dementia Friends. Dementia is the biggest health and social care crisis facing society today. Someone develops the condition every three minutes and too many are facing it alone. Dementia affects people, their carers and families in different ways but one thing seems universal: people don’t always get the support or understanding they deserve. We need more people to help us break down the stigma surrounding the condition by joining our growing movement for change, today.”

Vicky Irwin, Community Development Manager, at Sharks Community Trust, said 

“We are delighted to upskill our workforce to become Dementia Friends. As we deliver Walking Rugby for those aged 50 years and older, we wanted to ensure staff had the skills to ensure that sessions are as inclusive as possible. We look forward to ensuring Sale Sharks matches are inclusive for all those attend, which is further achievable with the fantastic facility of the quiet room at the AJ Bell Stadium.”

Whether people attend a face-to-face Information Session or watch the Society’s online video, Dementia Friends is about learning more about dementia and the small things people can do to make a difference. Dementia Friends is the biggest ever social action movement to change perceptions of dementia – one in every 30 people in England, Northern Ireland and Wales are now involved.

Anyone can become a Dementia Friend by watching a short online video or attending an Information Session. Unite with Alzheimer’s Society today, visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk

Ian Sherriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia, said:

While we are proud of what we have achieved so far, we are all aware that there is more to do – support from the highest levels and the continued efforts of innovators in the lab, in clinic and in society will help us to tackle this pernicious disease

Read more about Ian Sherriff

Fighting the causes and effects of dementia

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