Frankie Greenwood’s reflections from the International Dementia Conference

‘The voice of carers’

In this blog as a continuation of my reflections from being fortunate enough to attend the International Dementia Conference 2002 (IDC 2022) in Sydney Australia, on 8th and 9th September 2022, I wanted to highlight the carers who were brave enough to share their stories. 

The voice of carers was prominent during the conference, who shared stories of their own lived experience.

Tully Smith, a well-known reality TV star, media personality and influencer, spoke in conversation with Mike Baird, HammondCare Chief Executive Officer, about her mother’s early onset dementia journey, that began when Tully was a young teenager. Tully’s story was an incredibly moving account of what it is like for a teenager and young adult to see their mother change with dementia, and the emotional challenges that accompany that journey. The story highlights the lack of support for young carers and Tully commented that “dementia can be a lonely disease.”

In a panel discussion entitled ““When behaviour changes our terra firma: What has the Australian Experience taught us” we heard from Lynne Sewell, whose husband has a dementia, and could display aggressive and violent behaviour, often labelled as BPSD (Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia). Lynne advocated that his behaviour was a way of communicating, rather than something psychological or indeed an unmet need, emphasising that her husband needs to be “well known, well cared for and to have fun”.

The panel reflected that dementia care training needs to take place in all nursing and medical care programmes, as there is often a lack of knowledge and understanding in many healthcare settings, including hospitals.

The conference theme this year was “Brave New World” and it brought together experts in health and aged care, including those with lived experience, from across the world who all had the common goal of finding ways to “improve the quality of life for people living with dementia” (Dementia Conference, 2022).  

The two days were packed with a range of plenary and concurrent speakers addressing the experiences and needs of people living with dementia across cultures and countries, living in the home and in aged care facilities, and how we might begin to understand and mitigate the causes of dementia in the future, and make life better for those who live with dementia. 

I spoke about the bold project and the impact that the project has had across our communities in Scotland. 

In my next blog from the IDC I’ll chat about ‘Everybody’s Oma’ and so much more…