A solicitor from Chichester has helped create 424 new Dementia Friends in a bid to help her national law firm become one of the most dementia-friendly legal businesses in the UK.
Senior associate solicitor Catherine Diamond, who works for Irwin Mitchell Private Wealth’s Elderly & Vulnerable Client team, is a Dementia Friends Champion who delivers training, as part of an initiative run by the Alzheimer’s Society, based on changing the public’s perception of the condition.
Catherine, who specialises in providing later life legal advice for individuals and their families, swapped her day job in favour of touring the firm’s offices in Southampton and Gatwick, and delivering training via video link to the office in Glasgow to 108 colleagues.
Catherine joined forces with fellow Dementia Friends Champion and Newbury based colleague, solicitor, Ben Saunders, who split the tour of 12 offices between them.
Before taking on the mammoth task Catherine had previously trained 66 Dementia Friends, 33 of which were her colleagues in Chichester last year.
A further 38 colleagues attended her session in Chichester last week, meaning roughly 80 per cent of staff at the law firm’s Chichester office, previously known as Thomas Eggar, are now trained as Dementia Friends.
The tour was timed prior to Dementia Awareness Week, (May 15-21), with group chief executive officer, Andrew Tucker, lending a hand to introduce the first seminar held at Irwin Mitchell’s Sheffield site.
Those who attended were then encouraged to go home and spread the word to friends and family on what they learned about dementia and the many challenges that those with the condition face.
Catherine said: “These were informal sessions which explained simply the ways in which dementia can change people’s lives.
“The key focus of the sessions, however, is that there is always more to the person than the dementia and that, with an early diagnosis and appropriate support from family, friends and professionals, it is possible for people to live well with dementia.”
“Our experience shows us the impact that dementia has on those who live with the condition and their loved ones. We want to help improve life for these people by helping to create as many new Dementia Friends as possible.
“Not only so our employees have a better understanding of the clients they are working with, but so they can spread the word to their own families and friends and help the wider communities we operate in become more inclusive by giving them a greater understanding of dementia and ways to help people living with the condition.”
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