Oak Note SCIO piloted the very first Dementia Awareness Workshops for primary age in three school classes in Scotland in 2019. These were fun, interactive and informative, and took place before the young people met with their senior partners in a large arts project.
Created with Alzheimer Scotland's Susan Rendell, funded by Heritage Lottery and externally assessed by psychologists from Edinburgh University, the workshops set up the children aged 8 to 10 to effectively communicate with elders with different types of dementia.
With the advancement of medicine around the world, people are living longer - and with advanced age there is a prevalence of certain dementia's. This means that more young people come into contact with an elder who has dementia.
This training is invaluable in changing attitudes and behaviour towards people with dementia, and is currently only available for adults. Oak Note SCIO believes that we often underestimate our youth and their capabilities hence responding to this gap in social education.
We saw growth in the children's confidence after the workshop, and again after they used their new skills and understanding of dementia in their interactions with their elders. With an aging Scottish population, there is a real need for compassionate, empathetic and educated young people to care for the elderly in their communities.
Oak Note SCIO are currently lobbying for funding to roll this work out to primary schools around Scotland, to do an extended study on this work and its impact, and to make the final workshop plans open access.