Our students presented with Catriona McCusker and Charlotte Burnside, two P7 school children from Our Lady of Lourdes Primary School in East Kilbride, who gave an eloquent representation of what they learned about dementia from the student nurses.
Over the last four years the school has established strong partnership working with South Lanarkshire Council Education Department. To date, final year student nurses have delivered a variety of health promotion topics to around 20,000 school children in the South Lanarkshire area.
Dementia: through the eyes of a child started off as a small research project with five local schools. Positive evaluation of this work has led to Dementia awareness being included into the portfolio of ‘Class in a bag’ © health promotion topics currently being used as part of the BSc Adult and Mental Health Nursing curriculum in all four university sites. If you want to know more about this original project go to: http://www.uws.ac.uk/throughtheeyesofachild/
Our Lady of Lourdes primary school was involved in the initial research and recently was commended by Education Scotland HMIE for innovative practice for its work on dementia.
Charlotte said: “The dementia workshops gave us all a better understanding of what dementia is and how it affects people. It mainly affects people over 65 and not everyone will develop it. If anybody from my family ever gets dementia, I will know how to support and care for them. It will help me too because I have an understanding of what’s going on.”
In her presentation, Student nurse Karen Ross highlighted that educating young people to become citizens of the future who are informed and prepared, not only enables them to develop their own sense of self, but also to become active members of a cohesive community. The ‘Dementia: Class in a Bag’ © is an excellent innovative approach to increase children’s understanding, to build their confidence in communicating with people with dementia, to have a greater insight into a widespread issue, and to reduce challenging disabling attitudes, stigma and beliefs about people with dementia. Hopefully achieving dementia friendly communities who care and display compassion that acknowledges the person beyond their disease.
Student nurse Laura Wilson said: “The language used during the dementia teaching sessions is gentle and focuses on kindness, care and compassion, dignity and really being nice and helpful – this approach helps to empower children to be more understanding of what a person living with dementia may be experiencing.”
Debbie McLeod from Education Scotland commended this collaborative approach to address one aspect of the Health and Wellbeing curriculum and encouraged this good practice to be shared more widely. To this end, a case study of Dementia: through the eyes of a child will be placed on the Education Scotland web page to share this innovative practice.