Tag: ExeterDementiaActionAlliance

Alzheimer’s Society Blog: Gina Awad Dementia Friendly Awards 2017: Last year’s winner, one year on

Alzheimer’s Society Blog: Gina Awad Dementia Friendly Awards 2017: Last year’s winner, one year on

Last year saw founder of the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance, Gina Awad, win her award for Dementia Friends Champion of the Year 2016.  Several of our homes are members of the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance and we work closely with Gina to help raise awareness of building a more dementia friendly community in Exeter. The Alzheimer’s Society reflect on last years winners as 2017 nomination open.

With nominations for 2017’s Dementia Friendly Awards now open, one of last year’s winners Gina Awad explains how work continues in her local community.

Since winning the award for Dementia Friends Champion of the Year in 2016, I have continued to raise awareness across Exeter.

In this busy, vibrant city a transformation in the perception of dementia is beginning to take shape. It’s inspiring to see this vision of a dementia friendly community embraced with open arms, but there is still much more to do. As we know change is tough, but being open to change is a key starting point.

Building the movement

I am certainly not superwoman and at times I’ve genuinely struggled juggling work, being a mum, following my passion in dementia and working towards the completion of my BSc in Health & Social Care through the Open University.

But I’m proud to continue delivering regular Dementia Friends sessions, which have now reached more than 1,300 people. These sessions have ranged in diversity from GP practices to supermarkets, coffee shops and yoga festivals. I even led a session in Beijing airport when I trekked the Great Wall of China for dementia research!

I also continue to present my quarterly community radio show on Phonic FM, ‘Living better with dementia’. The show gives a platform for people living with dementia to share personal stories and experiences, as well as giving innovators the space to share new and existing initiatives.

Empowering the community

What I’ve discovered more recently is the power of collaboration and partnership and how it moves mountains. We have a lot to learn from eachother, and by sharing fresh perspectives and ideas we can achieve so much more.

I have delivered more than 90 individual Dementia Friends sessions to date. What’s even more important, though, is developing a collaborative approach with local businesses and organisations to further the reach of this evolving community work.

The Dementia Friends social action movement has been pivotal in bringing local organisations into the fold. To date the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance has received commitment from 58 organisations – a tremendous achievement that I feel very proud to have played a part in.

Learning never stops

Even at this stage in my journey, there is always more to learn. So it has been heartening to receive support from the community as I chose to further my education in dementia following my degree.

With trepidation, I took the plunge to crowdfund an online Post Graduate Certificate in Dementia Studies with Stirling University. Last week I achieved my funding target thanks to the generosity of those who have supported my voluntary work. What can I say… I don’t have words!

I am not unique as a Dementia Friends Champion. There are so many fantastic individuals across the country making tremendous differences daily and I salute you all.

For anyone who wants to join the movement, all I’d say is that Dementia Friends has changed my life. Being honoured for my work is a welcome bonus and for that I am truly thankful.

Blog posted here: https://blog.alzheimers.org.uk/inside-the-society/dementia-friendly-awards-winner/

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Memory Walk 2017 Exeter

Memory Walk 2017 Exeter

On Sunday 3rd September some Peninsula Care Homes staff joined hundreds of people walking for the Alzheimer’s Society Memory Walk.

Starting in Exwick playing fields near the canal we walked just under 5 miles taking in some of the canal views and wildlife. It was an extremely damp day with pouring rain but didn’t prevent us and many others walking for Alzheimer’s Society.

Should you wish to donate please visit our fundraising page https://www.justgiving.com/companyteams/MW41275x

Our next walk/run is supporting the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance. The Muddiford’s Cheese Run is on October 8th and includes a 5 mile scenic run/walk from Burlescombe Village along The Grand Western Canal finishing at Muddiford’s Court Country House. After the finishing line we can enjoy the fun day.

muddifords-cheese-run-2017

Guest Blog: Founder of EDAA, Gina Awad, shares the importance of Reflexology in care homes.

Guest Blog: Founder of EDAA, Gina Awad, shares the importance of Reflexology in care homes.

When asked the question “What do you do ?” I often hesitate as I wear many hats, but today I’d like to share the part of my life that embraces reflexology and the power of gentle touch for those living with dementia.

“Reflexology is a holistic complementary therapy based on the principle that there are areas and points on the feet and hands that map via the nervous system to corresponding parts of the body. When pressure is applied to these areas and points it stimulates the movement of energy along the nerve channels, and helps to restore homeostasis (balance) in the whole body (Association of Reflexologists)”.

I offer treatments in Care Homes which, I feel privileged to attend, and it enables me to connect with people on a one to one basis in their space. What is really special is being able to ‘be with’ the person where they are in those moments. They may sit in silence and enjoy relaxing, they may reminisce about times gone by or there may be moments of intense felt emotion, which can offer catharsis.

I regularly meet families who feel a sense of guilt having promised their loved ones they would spend their twilight years living in their own home. Sadly for reasons beyond their control this is often not the case.

A recent experience taught me the value of a quality connection. I was invited to visit a resident named Ted who has been living with Vascular dementia since 2013. I had never met Ted before and he had agreed to a reflexology treatment. I was primed and aware this could feel unexpected on the day as his memory was fading. When I arrived he was having his lunch and suggested I join him with a coffee. I sat down and as he enjoyed the remainder of his lunch he chatted away to me as if we had known each other for years. Other than a few details I knew very little about Ted’s life and yet he appeared totally at one in my presence.

Within in half an hour, having achieved a real sense of connection we strolled to his room. He settled into his comfy chair and I was able to soak his feet, gently massaging them using reflexology techniques. This exchange was not about the depth of the treatment but the essence of our connection.

What took priority was the desire for this wonderful man to sit comfortably in his chair. As he began to share stories of his younger days, his eyes sparkled with sheer contentment, which illuminated his room. There were confusing times for Ted accompanied by moments of pure clarity. What he longed for was for me to listen with intent allowing him to express exactly what he treasured.

Amidst his reflections his eyes closed gently and tears began to slowly roll down his cheeks accompanied by a soft, sweet smile. I felt humbled, beyond belief, to witness those moments where a human being appeared to experience such a profound sense of inner peace. As he opened his eyes he quietly looked up at me with his soft smile and said “thank you, thank you so much for listening to me and being so kind, I love going back”.

As a result of my first visit I have since been invited twice more, each time an absolute delight. I look forward to more visits over the coming months.

I cannot emphasise enough how essential it is to be adaptable when ‘being with’ people living with dementia and meet them where they are, this example is not to be underestimated.

Considering Reflexology for people with dementia..

There are a number of stages of dementia and some clients may be uncommunicative whilst others will be articulate, lively, receptive and conscious that their cognitive faculties are beginning to decline. Dementia can take many forms but all have the potential to respond pleasingly to therapeutic touch.

The following areas and systems will be considered when providing reflexology.

Working the big toes/fingers to stimulate head/brain;
Working the digestive system;
Working the respiratory system;
Techniques and reflex points to reduce anxiety.

I trained as a Counsellor 15 years ago but have always felt empathy and listening inherent to me, both the spoken and unspoken word. Coupled with my reflexology skills and passion for dementia I feel I have much to offer as a therapist.

gina-awad-reflexology

To contact me if you’d be interested in a visit to your family member in the Exeter area email me at: ginasfreespirit@yahoo.co.uk

Gina Awad founded and leads the Exeter Dementia Action Alliance and is aspiring to raise
awareness across Exeter valuing the need for a Dementia Friendly Community that understands and respects people living with dementia and their families. She has recently been honoured at the Alzheimer’s Society National Dementia Friendly Awards with the accolade of Dementia Champion of the Year 2016
http://www.theexeterdaily.co.uk/news/business-daily-local-news/exeters-gina-awad-recognisednational-dementia-friendly-awards-2016