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NI Dementia Champions Celebrate Achievement at Second Graduation Ceremony

Photograph of some of the Dementia Champions holding their certificates.
Pictured attending the recent NI Dementia Champions Graduation Ceremony are back row (from L-R) Louise Henry, North West Regional College, Seamus McErlean, Health & Social Care Board, Eleanor Ross, Public Health Agency, and Ryan Williams, Connected Health. Front row (from L-R) Catriona Donnelly, Connected Health, Stephanie McGuinness and Geraldine Lavery, both North West Regional College, Jerome Dawson, Department of Health, Angela Hodgkinson, Atlantic Philanthropies, and Lorna Conn, Health and Social Care Board

Northern Ireland’s second cohort of Dementia Champions celebrated their graduation at a ceremony held in their honour recently in Antrim. Health and social care staff from across NI, who work in Health and Social Care Trusts and in non-statutory health organisations, were successful in completing this innovative training programme in professional dementia care. Photo gallery from the event available here.

Congratulating the successful graduates, Lorna Conn, Dementia Together NI Project Manager, HSCB, said: “I am delighted to launch our second Dementia Champions award ceremony which represents the culmination of the hard work and dedication of our graduates, their managers and our training providers Connected Health and the North West Regional College. This programme was specifically designed to support the development of Dementia ‘champions’ as agents of change in improving the experience, care and outcomes for people with a dementia. It represents a landmark on our journey towards a better quality of life and well-being for people receiving dementia services. I have no doubt that the commitment demonstrated by today’s graduates reflects their ongoing commitment to delivering this shared vision into the future.”

The Dementia Champions Training Programme was developed and provided in partnership by the Health and Social Care Board, the Public Health Agency, Connected Health, North West Regional College, the Department of Health and Atlantic Philanthropies.

Speaking at the event, Ryan Williams, Connected Health Chief Officer, said: “We are very impressed by the calibre of all of today’s participants. The graduates work in Mental Health, Learning Disability and Older People’s Services across a range of disciplines from nursing and occupational therapy to hospitals and community care settings. Their dedication and enthusiasm throughout the Dementia Champions programme is already making real changes in peoples’ lives through setting and raising the standards of dementia treatment and care.”

The programme enables students gain knowledge and skills on all aspects of dementia care including receiving a dementia diagnosis, research and evidence-based practice, communication and designing enabling environments. The course is delivered via a blended learning approach of five study days, online resources and the submission of work-based assignments.

Geraldine Lavery, Head of Health at North West Regional College (NWRC), said: “The Dementia Champions programme exemplifies how much can be achieved in terms of health social care workforce upskilling through partnership working and maximising the use of technology enhanced learning. NWRC are proud to have worked collaboratively with Connected Health and Dementia Together NI to deliver a challenging , innovative and enriching programme of training which already is evidencing an impact on driving improved practice in dementia care practice .”

The first cohort of Dementia Champions in Northern Ireland graduated on 1 February 2017; one further cohort will complete the training programme during 2017. This will bring the number of Dementia Champions in Northern Ireland to over 300.

Volunteers and staff from Dementia NI, staff from across the voluntary, statutory and independent sectors, and, academics and regulators were thanked for their ongoing contribution to the development of the Dementia Champions training programme.