A Dementia Friends Champion is enabling volunteers to provide better support for lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+) people with dementia.
Opening Doors London, a charity supporting older lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans (LGBT+) people, runs a befriending scheme to help fight isolation and loneliness.
Fabricio Catroppa, who supports the volunteer befrienders, is determined to make sure that LGBT+ people affected by dementia benefit fully from the service.
‘A lot of people are isolated because of their sexual orientation or gender identity,’ says Fabricio, Befriending Support Officer. ‘Maybe they don’t have family in London or their life partner has died.
‘Befriending gives clients a human contact to help them feel more connected to the LGBT+ community – it’s very important to people.’
The service supports around 90 befriending relationships across London, and many of its clients have memory problems or dementia.
Fabricio became a Dementia Friends Champion so that he can sign people up to Dementia Friends – the movement transforming people’s understanding of dementia and what they can do to make a difference.
‘I learned about the different types of dementia, the importance of a diagnosis and tips on how to support clients,’ says Fabricio.
The training to become a champion is also helping him to support volunteers and clients.
‘I learned about the different types of dementia, the importance of a diagnosis and tips on how to support clients,’ he says. ‘I’ve even called my trainer for help with a client.’
Fabricio will deliver Dementia Friends sessions to his colleagues in the summer. Till then, he’s sharing his new knowledge in any way he can.
‘I can translate what I’ve learned to them,’ he says. ‘I feel more confident speaking to them about dementia and I can tell volunteers what to expect.’
This includes how people with memory problems, who may have repetitive conversations, can still remember how someone has made them feel.
‘I said it doesn’t matter if you always talk about the same thing with your client,’ says Fabricio. ‘They will enjoy seeing a familiar face and will keep that positivity after the visit.’
‘We know we are leaving people in a happier frame of mind,’ says Fabricio.
Fabricio feels able to match his clients with dementia to volunteers more easily, and befrienders have witnessed the impact.
‘Volunteers tell me that when they arrive the client is quite sad, but then they start talking and reminiscing,’ he says. ‘When they leave, the client is happy after a nice interaction.
‘We know we are leaving people in a happier frame of mind.’
Dementia Friends Champion
Inspire others to help people with dementia live well