Rob Sadler shares how he got involved in Dementia Friendly Cardiff and more.
Read this story in Welsh
When I started working for Cardiff Library Services in 2016, my wife was already working for Alzheimer’s Society, and I had a limited understanding of dementia and what the Society does.
The library service had started doing some work around dementia with the purchase of a RemPod – a pop-up reminiscence area.
Shortly after joining, the Society carried out a Dementia Friends session with myself and a few staff at Cardiff Central Library Hub.
I thought it would be really valuable to extend this to the rest of the library service, so I became a champion and, over a couple of months, managed to make all of our staff (around 120) Dementia Friends.
We launched Books on Prescription for Dementia – the Reading Well scheme that recommends books people affected by dementia might find helpful. We also launched a number of dementia cafés across the city.
Although Dementia Friendly Cardiff existed prior to this, we became the lead for this work from a council perspective.
Dementia Friendly Cardiff is led in partnership by Cardiff Council, Cardiff and Vale University Health Board and Alzheimer’s Society.
As a council, we felt it was really important to make sure we were doing everything we could to get our own house in order. It’s really difficult to ask things of the community if you’re not doing them yourself.
I worked with the Society to create a Dementia Friends module on the council’s online training platform. Videos were translated and subtitled in Welsh, and we issue badges and action cards when staff have done the module.
They have become a part of the training that all council staff have to complete, and since then almost 4,500 have done it.
In 2020, we launched dementiafriendlycardiff.co.uk following consultation. The site has information about dementia alongside carefully selected local services and events.
A new Dementia Friendly Volunteer Co-ordinator has created materials and a training package for volunteers to work within communities, having conversations with local businesses and organisations to encourage them to become dementia friendly.
Making a difference
I think the most memorable moments have come from reminiscence sessions within care homes and dementia cafés.
We have a particular book which has pictures of some of the old pubs of Cardiff, and I have heard some wild stories about nights out in some of these pubs – there is definitely more to the person than the dementia!
I really hope that the work we are doing is making a difference to people’s everyday lives. I carried out a face-to-face Dementia Friends session with staff that included some working within electoral services.
One of the actions they pledged was to make the voting at elections more dementia friendly. This is hugely impactful for people living with dementia to live well and remain a part of their community.
I’d definitely recommend becoming a Dementia Friend if you haven’t already. Find out what is going on already in your local community – is there a dementia-friendly community initiative or dementia action alliance?
I’m really lucky that my work has allowed me to not only meet lots of people who are living with dementia, but work on lots of different projects to help them as part of Dementia Friendly Cardiff.
Become a Dementia Friend by taking part in an online or face-to-face session, or by watching our online videos.