Leeds Castle has been accredited as a ‘Working towards becoming Dementia Friendly’ organisation by the Dementia Action Alliance; a nation-wide programme working to change the world’s perception of dementia.
The Castle was awarded the title after 85 members of its staff successfully became ‘Dementia Friends’ by attending the dementia information sessions held by Leeds Castle’s Training Officer. Set up by Alzheimer’s Society, the Dementia Friends programme aims to transform the way the world thinks, acts and talks about the condition through face-to-face information sessions and videos. Leeds Castle’s Staff Training Officer Rachel Holliday - who is also a volunteer ‘Dementia Champion’ trained by Alzheimer’s Society - began leading the information sessions for staff back in 2017. She has so far held an impressive total of 27 talks at the Castle.
“Our staff may regularly encounter people living with the disease in their day to day life, but also whilst meeting members of the public when working at the Castle,” says Rachel.
“Dementia Friends is a great way to increase their understanding of dementia but also to learn the practical ways in which they can support someone, and to help them provide excellent customer service. A number of staff who came into the information sessions had relatives or friends who were living with dementia. Many commented on how useful they found the session and it really made them think about how it might feel for someone to be living with dementia.”
Across the 27 sessions, staff members were taught what it’s like to live with dementia, and how they can help and support any Castle visitors living with dementia. Staff who have attended the sessions get a ‘Dementia Friends’ badge, which they can wear on their uniform to promote even more awareness. Leeds Castle will also be holding more Dementia Friends Information Sessions for its staff later in the year, particularly throughout Dementia Friends Week from 21st – 27th May.
The initiative aims to show how everyone can help, with the message that every action counts; from telling friends about the programme to visiting someone you know living with dementia. Anyone of any age can be a Dementia Friend. Visit the Dementia Friends website here for more information or to book yourself onto one of the public sessions currently running across England and Wales.