How a Dementia Friendly Community Champion in Northern Ireland is making a positive impact on people’s lives, from home care to shopping.
When Lynne Bulled’s employer chose her as one of 300 staff to focus on improving services for people affected by dementia, she approached the Society for help. That was in December 2016, and it’s safe to say that she’s succeeded in making a real difference since then.
‘I’d like to think if I had dementia, people would go the extra mile for me,’ she says. ‘I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure someone has the best possible life.’
Lynne, Homecare Officer at Northern Health and Social Care Trust, manages the kinds of community services that many people with dementia rely on.
‘I wanted to build staff understanding, knowledge and skills,’ says Lynne.
After becoming a Dementia Friendly Community Champion – Northern Ireland’s equivalent of a Dementia Friends Champion – she delivered workshops for her staff.
She says, ‘I wanted to build staff understanding, knowledge and skills, engaging and motivating them to improve the quality of care we provide.’
The impact of this has been evident when Lynne talks to the people with dementia who they support, as well as with their families.
‘Our staff have become more confident, feeling more empowered to support and enable people to live life to the full. They’re also better equipped to signpost people to other services.’
Dementia Friends Champion
Inspire others to help people with dementia live well
Lynne didn’t stop with her own work though. Knowing that shopping can become a challenge for many people affected by dementia, she contacted the Junction shopping centre in Antrim.
‘I sent an email to the two managers of the Junction, and it snowballed from that. Both managers have family experience of dementia and they invited me along to speak to them. They got my passion.’
‘It has been a privilege to work alongside individuals with dementia and learn from their experiences,’ says Lynne.
As a result of rolling out workshops to staff at the Junction, they are better able to support people affected by dementia. Many have become Dementia Friends, and staff dementia awareness is now a requirement for all the centre’s shops. People with the condition have also been involved in improving facilities and signage.
‘It has been a privilege to work alongside individuals with dementia and learn from their experiences.’
After seeing what the Junction has achieved, other shopping centres in Northern Ireland are now also working to become more dementia friendly.
Not only was Lynne recognised as Dementia Friendly Community Champion of the year in our Dementia Friendly Awards last year, her son Samuel was also one of three winners in the Inspiring Young Person of the year category.
‘That was such a reward for me as well – I’m very proud!’