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Chinese Visitors Inspired by Dementia Care Programme
Students and teachers from Huzhou University in China have had an inspiring and thought-provoking three-week visit to Plymouth. Part of a British Council-funded initiative with City College Plymouth, the innovative project is looking into dementia diagnosis and care.
The aim of the partnership is to establish an international hub for dementia research and training near Shanghai. The hub will be a forum for sharing good practice in dementia care within the community, as well as within clinical settings. It will also help to inform policy and practice in China.
As part of their fact-finding mission, the Chinese visitors were shown the many different ways people with dementia are supported in the City. They met carers, medical practitioners, health and dementia organisations and community groups. They talked to employers about how they support customers with dementia, attended training sessions at the College, visited a memory café and hosted a workshop at the International Dementia Conference at Plymouth Guildhall.
City College Principal and Chief Executive, Phil Davies, said: “Our longstanding partnership with Huzhou University and our strong relationship with the British Council, provide us with significant opportunities to work innovatively and share best practices. The dementia care project will have significant impact in the UK and in China and endorses City College Plymouth as one of the country’s leading Colleges for technical and professional training and development.
“The international hub for dementia research and training will increase opportunities for health care professionals and students around the world. It will enhance curriculum development that will make a real difference to dementia care nationally and internationally.”
A visit to Devonport Police Station was part of the bespoke programme. Plymouth won the 2016 Dementia Friendly City award from the Alzheimer’s Society, and Devon and Cornwall Police in Plymouth are part of the Dementia Action Alliance. The Chinese group were given a tour of the station and met officers from the Neighbourhood Team who talked about recognising signs and symptoms of dementia and people who are vulnerable. They also met with officers on the Local Investigation Team who explained their approach to vulnerable victims through the use of the achieving best evidence video interview, and the support that the Victim Care Unit gives. The visit finished with a talk from Sergeant Rachel Ward about the approach of Devon and Cornwall Police to dementia.
“We are raising awareness of dementia through information sessions delivered by a Dementia Champion,” said Sergeant Ward. “We have work in progress to become more dementia friendly, including the Herbert Protocol (a tool to aid faster recovery time for missing persons living with dementia); making our Public Enquiry Offices more accessible for people living with dementia and their carers; and having a Dementia Action Alliance action plan, which includes supporting our officers and staff who may be living with or caring for a family member who is living with dementia.”
The University of Plymouth, a project partner, hosted a tour of its research facilities.
Ian Sherriff and Val Mann, from the University of Plymouth Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry, said: “We are really excited about working alongside lecturers and students from Huzhou University, China. This initiative brings together individuals from the University and the College, with students and lecturers from China. There is widespread recognition at the highest level of government in the UK and China about the present and potential future impacts of dementia. The search for ways to enhance the quality of life for those affected is a constant and complex one. Creative projects like this exchange of ideas can open up new ways of working in partnerships in the world of dementia.”
The three week programme drew to a close with a celebration lunch in the College’s PL1 Restaurant. Special guest, Oliver Colvile MP, presented certificates to the group.
“It was a privilege to present the Chinese students with their certificates for their time in Plymouth learning about the excellence of dementia care,” said Oliver. “This was a fantastic initiative to raise awareness of dementia and to search for new ways to help those affected. I would like to thank all those involved.”
Yao Jinlan, Deputy Dean of Huzhou Nursing School, summed up the value of the visit. “The ideas and perceptions we have gained over the last three weeks have been the highlight of the trip. In China 90% of dementia patients stay at home and are cared for by family members but due to a lack of training they haven’t got the specific skills to take care of them. Here in the UK, not only do hospital staff have knowledge, but the community is very involved in the care of those with dementia. This sense of community is an important idea we will take from Plymouth to China. We would to thank City College Plymouth for the experience and opportunities we have had on this trip.”
Student, Joy, said: “The care available in the UK is very different to China. Everyone here has so much awareness. There is a lot of support and information available to all and most people know something about the condition or about a charity that can help. The depth of knowledge people have is very impressive.”
Student, Fanny, said: “We can take back and share so much information from this trip. We have learnt a lot of useful techniques and will try out some of the ideas suggested to us by the students at City College. I like the idea of setting up a memory café to help support those with dementia and their families.”
In addition to the dementia care programme, the Chinese visitors were delighted to attend a Plymouth Argyle match, seeing the pilgrims beat Morecambe 1-0. Having explored the Barbican and Hoe, they sampled the local cuisine concluding that although fish ‘n’ chips and pasties weren’t to everyone’s taste, cream teas got the thumbs-up!
For more information about the range of courses, Apprenticeships and other study opportunities, the College is holding an Open Day and Spring Fete on Saturday 29 April, 10.00am to 1.00pm at King Road. Please visit cityplym.ac.uk/events or call 01752 305300 for more information.