Something extremely odd happened with “Dementia Friends”. Its growth rate was rather sluggish, until the floodgates to Dementia Friends Scotland suddenly opened, and then it became online so that you could become a ‘Dementia Friend’ through a quickie online click.
Call me old-fashioned, but this is not a social movement. This is clever marketing. Likewise if you market ‘Dementia Friends’ through the power of international marketing, and your friends in Big Charity abroad, that is not the same as creating a “global” social movement. That is called international marketing.
The beauty with homogenising ‘Dementia Friends’ into a McDonalds style Big Mac product, where everyone receives the same patties and cheese-based sauce, is that it is easy for bite size chunks about dementia to become propagated – perfect for a broad brush public awareness campaign. And it doesn’t need to be done by specialists, who are in the new post Brexit age overrated anyway.
This confusion about the limitations of ‘Dementia Friends’ has become a big problem for the propensity of some people to call ‘Dementia Friends’ “training”. It is categorically not training. It is not regulated by any of the clinical regulators. To sell ‘Dementia Friends’ as training is a mis-sell. To give the Alzheimer’s Society credit, they never themselves purport “Dementia Friends” as training.
I think it is more than a ‘big problem’ in fact. I think this has opened the floodgates to where Dementia Friends has been used as an inexpensive alternative to real training for staff in care homes who do need to be educated to a competent level, as far as a regulator is concerned, in dementia.
We, in the workforce, need to be crystal clear that social care and NHS are on its knees. It’s no good squirrelling away this money in the Budget for grammar schools, or a Brexit slush fund, when all clinicians need to be transparent and speak out openly against the dangerous cuts in care.
All this leads to me to say that clinicians and practitioners in dementia of whatever background, physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, social care/mental health, physician or psychiatrist, should help in educating each other, about evidence-based good practice in dementia.
I think we should not wait to be selected as ‘special’ from Health Education England, or the such like, but we should use new media to educate the workforce as the situation demands it.
I’ve decided to get the ball rolling by publishing a free 100 page document on ‘Signposts to dementia care’ which sets out the major topics in the new Dementia Core Skills for Learning and Training Framework.
You can download my free document here.
I have produced this book without any funding or commissions at all. I suggest that if you have the time, you can help build a social movement where the workforce can become more dementia-literate in such a way that is not dependent on big corporate sponsorship. Many of us are simply sick of the growth of dementia being sold as a ‘product’ with more emphasis on where the next grant is coming from or the latest brand or PR stunt. There are powerful principles of health equity and universal coverage at stake.