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Swanshurst School

Swanshurst is a school for girls aged 11-19 years with 1500 in the main school and about 250 in the Sixth Form Centre. We have outstanding students and our aim is to always provide an outstanding education for each and every one of them, so that every student develops a thirst for knowledge and makes the very best progress possible. As a Leading Edge school, a specialist science college and a former DfE Training School, now a leading strategic partner with two local TSAs, we are at the forefront of educational development and flourish in partnership with many schools and colleges. We have strong community links with our annual Veterans’ Day attracting national attention. In 2012 we were honoured to be chosen as one of 21 schools to take part in a pilot project teaching dementia lessons in school.

12 March 2014
West Midlands
Local Alliances:
Birmingham Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists a number of outcomes that we are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

Our main focus is on Action Point 6 of the National Dementia Declaration: I have a sense of belonging and of being a valued part of family, community and civic life.  To achieve this will deliver a series of three lessons to our Year 9 pupils (aged 13-14 years) enabling them to have a better understanding of what is dementia and culminating in a visit by people with dementia, their carers and others with a knowledge of dementia.  The outcomes for the pupils will be that they will be able to empathise with both those with dementia and their carers so that they can see beyond the label of the illness to the person and that they will be better able to idientify the symptoms of dementia to help with early treatment possibly leading to changes to lifestyle can lessen their chances of getting dementia.  For those with dementia the final lesson will help them to see that they are a valued part of their community because of the very important role they play in delivering our message.

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

The main challenge is finding enough participants for the visit (hopefully 30 made up of 10 people with dementia, 10 carers and ten ‘others’) so each of the ten forms can have three visitors to provide different perspectives on dementia.  This is a logisitical problem because it has to fit into the school timetable and the people coming have to feel comfortable about coming into the school.  Often it is the ‘others’ who can cause problems because these are often health professionals because of other calls on their time.

Prepartion for the visit is also a challenge because both staff and pupils need to ready to get the most out of the lesson.  In the case of the staff they need to have lessons that are easy to follow and deliver.  For the pupils they need to be motivated so that they become engaged with the content of the lessons.

The final challenge is to widen the impact of the lessons across the school and into the community so that they become embedded into both. 

2. Actions

  • Ensuring that there are sufficient visitors for the third lesson

    We have now delivered these lessons twice and in that time have built up a number of important contacts including the Alzheimer's Society, Public Health England and the Young Carers.  Joining the DAA will hopefully provide us with even more contacts.

  • Widening the impact of the lessons

    Doug Smith, who has created the lessons, will become a Dementia Friends Champion so that he can train others at the school and help pupils and staff to become both Dementia Friends and Champions.  Visits to dementia groups will be organised and membership of the DAA will mean that a greater understanding of dementia friendly communities will be available for the school.