The University has signed up to a programme that will partner students with families living with dementia, in an effort to improve future care.

13 May 2024


This Dementia Action Week (May 13 to 19), the University of Portsmouth has partnered with a national charity to support people with dementia and their families in the city and surrounding areas.

To enhance dementia education at University of Portsmouth, The School of Health & Care Professions received funding from NHS England Workforce, Training and Education (formally Health Education England South East) to implement and deliver the Time For Dementia educational programme.

Time For Dementia was designed at Brighton and Sussex Medical School in partnership with Alzheimer’s Society to develop a new generation of healthcare professionals who are more aware and understanding of dementia. 

Typically, healthcare education has focused on clinical placements centred around critical or acute illness. The Alzheimer’s Society says this rarely equips students to develop a person-centred approach to healthcare, much less foster the compassion and understanding needed to help those affected by dementia.

In Time For Dementia, Paramedic Science undergraduates will be paired up and given a unique opportunity to visit a family impacted by dementia. Second year students will visit the same home, up to five times over two years, allowing them to learn about the lived experience of dementia within a home environment over an extended duration. 

With an ageing population it's essential that our Student Paramedic's are exposed to people living with, and carers of, those with a diagnosis of dementia to ensure that their care needs are met by the health care professionals of the future.

Ken Street, TFD Project Lead at the University (Associate Head - Students)

TFD Project Lead at the University (Associate Head - Students), Ken Street, said: 
“With an ageing population it's essential that our Student Paramedic's are exposed to people living with, and carers of, those with a diagnosis of dementia to ensure that their care needs are met by the health care professionals of the future.”

40 undergraduates will begin Time for Dementia at the start of the academic year in September. Families living with dementia near the University can also sign up to participate in the programme. 

The visits are a blend of informal interaction and personal connection, outside of a clinical setting, lasting between 90 minutes to two hours each and spaced every three to four months. They provide an opportunity to delve into the daily realities of living with dementia.

TFD Lead Administrator at the University (Senior Faculty Placements Officer), Carla Seath, said: “Many of our Paramedic Students will work within our local community when they graduate, and as someone who has family in the local area I am reassured by the fact that we are giving our students this fantastic opportunity to understand the impact of dementia on carers and people living with the condition.”

Time for Dementia has been in operation since 2014. The programme has so far been integrated into 10 universities and a range of healthcare courses from medical and nursing to physiotherapy and dietetics. It has made a meaningful impact by working with more than 2,200 families in the South of England and helping over 8,000 students to gain profound insights into dementia.

Findings from the Time for Dementia Research carried out by Brighton and Sussex Medical School show that students not only gain a better understanding of dementia but also a deeper awareness of the carer's role. 

Paramedic student, Michael McDonald, said: “As a student paramedic I believe it would be extremely beneficial to meet people with dementia and their families to see how the condition affects not only them but the people they live with in their daily lives. During our careers we will come into contact with them but only get a snapshot of how it is to live with the disease.”

There are currently around 900,000 people with dementia in the UK. This number is expected to rise sharply in the coming years. It is estimated 26,957 people are living with the disease in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.

Thabrez Khan, Alzheimer's Society Manager for Time for Dementia, said: "We’re delighted to be able to grow the project into other universities. We think it is of the utmost importance to involve people with a diagnosis of dementia and their carers or family in the training of these student healthcare professionals. This program gives the students a chance to learn from the experts on dementia – the people directly affected by the condition. It’s a good way for them to gain knowledge firsthand of what it’s like living with dementia and the challenges they have to overcome."

Dr. Stephanie Daley, programme lead from Brighton and Sussex Medical School, added: "Time for Dementia is a real game-changer in terms of dementia education for the future workforce. We are thrilled to support its expansion and hope that it will become the 'go-to' model of dementia education for all healthcare professionals in training."

Find out more, including how to get involved, online here.

More like this...