STUDENTS at the University of Bradford have been given important skills to help them recognise and deal with people with Dementia.

The University has an award winning School of Dementia Studies, that in recent years has pioneered ways of looking at the cruel condition.

Interacting with people with dementia is something many people are uncomfortable with, and there still exists many stigmas and misconceptions about the condition.

The help challenge these misconceptions research fellow Dr Sahdia Parveen set up the “Dementia Detective” programme where secondary school students aged 14 to 16 years take part in session to bust the myths surrounding dementia, look at clues to find out why certain people may act the way they do and discover how to support people living with dementia.

These sessions have now been expanded to pupils at the university, and the first student detectives took part in their session last week.

Last year the university were presented with the Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education, recognising the work done there to improve the lives of people with dementia.

The Dementia Detective sessions give people an insight into what dementia is, how it can effect people differently, and how there is no one way a person copes with the condition.

At the session, the detectives were shown a video interview of Wendy Mitchell, a 58 year old diagnosed with early onset dementia. She said that rather than plan for the future, dementia means she now has to plan for the next week. She said she would forget names or common words while she in the middle of a conversation. However, she was still living independently, and maintained strong links with family and friends. She added: “This makes me feel normal, because I am, there are just bits of me that are broken.”

The students involved in the sessions were told how important it was to see the person, rather than the condition and that there was “more to the person than dementia.”

They are told to avoid phrases like “demented” and “dementia sufferer” and instead describe people as “living with dementia.”

The sessions also teach that while it is a progressive condition, many people are still able to live perfectly well despite their diagnosis.

Dr Parveen told them how many with the condition may also be experiencing numerous other health or emotional problems that effect the way they act, from migraines to depression, but people often attribute this to dementia without looking at the wider picture.

The students were told of simple things people could do to support someone with dementia, from offering them directions if they seem confused to helping them count out their change in a shop.

The sessions end with the detective being made Dementia Friends.

Dr Parveen said: “Many of our students will either know someone with dementia or someone who is involved in dementia care.

“The sessions are an opportunity to learn more about dementia and to equip themselves with the skills and confidence to support people to live well with dementia.”