College urges members to become Dementia-Friends during Dementia Awareness Week

  • 17 May 2017

The College of Optometrists is encouraging members to sign up to the Dementia-Friends programme as part of Dementia Awareness Week which takes place this week (14 – 20 May).

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The Dementia-Friends programme is run by the Alzheimer’s Society and is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

Members interested in becoming a Dementia Friend can either take a free online course, which takes about 25 minutes to complete, or attend a face-to-face information session to gain an insight into what it feels like to be affected by dementia. College Clinical Adviser Daniel Hardiman-McCartney MCOptom and Dementia Friend said: “Anyone can complete the course; so useful I have encouraged the rest of the team whom I work with in practice to have a look, and those who have feel much more confident in helping those affected. It is worth noting how pharmacies have embraced this training with 80% of pharmacists’ in England having completed it. In addition the number of optical practices embracing the training is steadily growing, but as a profession we have a way to go. With one in six people affected by dementia, that’s a couple sight tests each day where a person could benefit from a little extra care and understanding.”

Daniel has written a blog about his experience as a Dementia-Friend and members can visit the College’s Dementia essential reading and learning page for top tips for an eye examination, videos and further reading on the condition.

The College’s recent research on the topic of dementia and visual impairment (VI) found that the prevalence of VI in those with dementia is generally higher than for the overall population, indicating that the lives of many people with dementia could be improved by regular sight tests and taking appropriate action. The research, entitled the Prevalence of Visual Impairment in People with Dementia (PrOVIDe), showed that almost 50% of those living with dementia and VI were no longer classified as visually impaired when wearing their up-to-date spectacle prescription. The College is now working with the Dementia Research Centre Team at UCL to explore which vision tests work best for people living with dementia.

Ends

Notes to Editors

  1. The College of Optometrists is the professional body for optometry. It qualifies the profession and delivers the guidance and training to ensure optometrists provide the best possible care. We promote excellence through the College’s affixes, by building the evidence base for optometry, and raising awareness of the profession with the public, commissioners, and health care professionals.
     
  2. The PrOVIDe research was led by the College of Optometrists in collaboration with City, University of London, University of Birmingham, Thomas Pocklington Trust, University of Newcastle, Trinity College Dublin, University College London and Alzheimer’s Society. It was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research programme.
     
  3. HS&DR Funding Acknowledgement: This project was funded by the National Institute for Health Research Health Services and Delivery Research Programme (project number 11/2000/13).
     
  4. Department of Health Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed therein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the HS&DR Programme, NIHR, NHS or the Department of Health.
     
  5. To read about or contribute to the College’s Research Fund, visit the College’s donation page.
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