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National Conference and Dementia Champions Graduation Event, Edinburgh, 13 March 2019

93 students from the ninth cohort of health and social service Dementia Champions graduate today bringing the total number of graduates since the programme began in 2011 to 950. The latest cohort boasts representatives from 12 health boards and 15 social service organisations across Scotland.

The national conference and graduation event is hosted in partnership by NHS Education for Scotland (NES), the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC), Alzheimer Scotland and the Scottish Government.

The Dementia Champions programme is part of the NES and SSSC Promoting Excellence workforce development programme. This programme supports the implementation of the national knowledge and skills framework for staff working with people with dementia, extends the reach of workforce learning and training opportunities and supports improvements across Scotland’s Dementia Strategy priority areas.

This event is focussed on the commitments set out to improve the experiences and outcomes of care for people with dementia who require care and treatment in hospital settings, including support on their discharge and end of life care.

Minister for Mental Health Clare Haughey said:

“I am delighted to support the Dementia Champions programme and recognise the importance of improving the care and support for people living with dementia and their families and carers.

“Supporting and developing the dementia workforce across health and social care remains at the heart of so much of our National Dementia Strategy - and it’s important to recognise and celebrate the commitment of front-line staff and managers.”

David Garbutt, NES Chair, said:

"The Dementia Champions programme enables transformational learning to take place, due in no small part to the excellent partnership working and the people living with dementia, their families and carers who, year on year, give their time to support delivery of the programme."

Professor James McGoldrick, SSSC Convenor, said:

“I’m proud to have been associated with this ceremony over the years and am delighted to see all the Dementia Champions here today and celebrate their achievement. With almost 1000 Dementia Champions now working in health and social services they are making a real difference to the lives of people living with dementia.”

Henry Simmons, Chief Executive of Alzheimer Scotland, said:

“Our Dementia Champions programme is an excellent example of our partnership working with NHS Education for Scotland (NES), the Scottish Social Services Council (SSSC) and the Scottish Government, to transform and improve standards of dementia care in hospitals throughout Scotland.

“We are delighted to recognise the ninth cohort of graduates today who have all made significant contributions to support those living with dementia within their communities. Our highly skilled Dementia Champions all share with us a deep desire to ensure that the best possible quality of care and support is always delivered to everyone with a dementia diagnosis and their families. At a time when our health and social care system is under increasing pressures, it is extremely reassuring to see the commitment of all those graduating today and for the dedication they have shown to improving the experiences of people with dementia and their families.”

Professor Debbie Tolson, Alzheimer Scotland Professor of Dementia and Director of the Alzheimer Scotland for Policy and Practice at University of the West of Scotland (UWS), said:

“The Dementia Champions Programme delivered here at the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice at UWS showcases the life-changing results of collaboration between people living with dementia, their families, Alzheimer Scotland and colleagues from NHS Scotland and the Scottish Social Services Council.

“The eight-month long programme empowers the health and social care participants to become ‘change agents’ in dementia care. Lessons learned as part of the delivery of the Dementia Champions programme are also embedded in our undergraduate nursing courses. This ensures that nurses graduating from UWS are also equipped with the skills to make a transformational impact on those living with dementia and their families by working alongside the Dementia Champions. It is an incredibly proud day for us all as we celebrate the graduation of the ninth cohort of Scotland’s Dementia Champions who will go on to improve the experience, care, treatment and outcomes of those living with dementia.”

NES and the SSSC have taken forward several initiatives to support improvements in the care of people with dementia in acute general hospitals, community hospitals, specialist dementia units and related social service settings. This includes the development of a range of learning resources to support implementation of the Promoting Excellence Framework, various training programmes, and joint working with other partners to support improvements.

The Dementia Champions graduation programme features keynote speeches, 12 different workshops and discussion sessions and 14 poster sessions presented by former champions and dementia specialist improvement leads.