Pupils from one of Wales’ leading independent schools are combatting dementia in their local community, supporting people with dementia at a local care home each week.
A class of 10- and 11-year olds from St. Nicholas House at Christ College Brecon decided to learn more about dementia and its effects so they could help their local community. Together with their teachers, the pupils decided to enter the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends initiative at the start of the school year.
Dementia Friends has been introduced to make people more aware of dementia, changing the way they think, act and talk about the condition that affects over 45,000 people in Wales. It has been introduced to remove barriers and ensure anyone affected by dementia feels part of society.
Since October 2017, pupils from St Nicholas House at Christ College Brecon have been visiting Trenewydd Care Home in Powys on a weekly basis. During their visit, the 10- to 11-year olds speak to elderly people, many of whom have dementia or Alzheimer’s. Pupils and residents chat about their lives and about the past. Pupils prompt discussions with residents, using photos of film stars and prominent figures from recent history, as well as garden flowers, helping them relive their memories.
Richard Shepherd, home manager at Trenewydd Care Home which is run by Shaw healthcare, said: “Our residents were delighted to have pupils from Christ College Brecon visit them. Many who have dementia can experience loneliness or may feel excluded from the outside world. So, to have a small group of pupils engage with residents, sharing stories and showing photos to one another, brought a smile to everyone’s faces and meant a lot to them.”
Julie Lewis from Christ College Brecon said: “Dementia is a condition that affects so many people within Wales, so as a school we decided to take action. Many pupils have heard of dementia, however, may not fully understand it.
“By becoming Dementia Friends and visiting Trenewydd Care Home regularly, they can see how a small action can have a big impact on someone else’s life. Pupils are really enjoying their visits and enjoy hearing about the residents’ lives, often remarking at how knowledgeable the residents are and how much they have seen. It has been a great experience not just for those with dementia, but also for our pupils. I am very proud to see how they are interested in one another during their conversations.”
Sue Phelps, Country Director of Alzheimer’s Society Cymru, said: “We’re delighted that primary school pupils at Christ College Brecon have chosen to become Dementia Friends. There are around 45,000 people in Wales living with dementia and it’s set to become the 21st century’s biggest killer.
“Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.
“By learning a little bit about what it’s like to live with dementia at a young age, these pupils are helping to banish stigma and work towards a better future for people affected by dementia.”