On World Mental Health Day October 10th Clonmel , and as part of Positive Ageing Week, Clonmel was host to an international Dementia Conference – “Living Well with Dementia” held at the Hotel Minella, Clonmel. The conference was organised as part of our “5 Steps to Living Well with Dementia in South Tipperary “ project with the aim of raising awareness about dementia and to destigmatize the condition. Guest speakers included Professor Brian Lawlor, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry at Trinity College Dublin who spoke about “What is dementia” and Professor Peter Passmore, Professor of Ageing and Geriatric Medicine in Queens University Dublin who spoke about “Dementia – the Treatment Landscape”. Jackie Pool, Occupational Therapist in the UK spoke about “Keeping Active to Live Well with Dementia” and Mary Mc Grath, Advanced Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist at the Memory Clinic in Belfast gave tips and strategies for managing everyday memory problems through cognitive rehabilitation. Associate Professor Suzanne Cahill of Trinity College Dublin presented her very positive research findings on our South Tipperary Dementia Project. Helen Jenkins , who is part of the project, spoke poignantly about the challenges involved in caring for both of her parents who had dementia.
Dr Caitriona Crowe, Consultant in Old Age Psychiatry in South Tipperary and the project lead, outlined the vision and the scope of the project. Clinical Nurse Specialist in Old Age Psychiatry Noel Maher presented a panel discussion on the Dementia Support Worker initiative which is being pioneered here in South Tipperary, assisted by Christina Morrissey the project co-ordinator and two of our dementia support workers. The conference was opened by Hugh Kane of Genio and closed by Tom Costello of Atlantic Philanthropies, who co-fund the project along with the HSE.
We were absolutely thrilled with the day. The conference sold out immediately with that line up of stellar speakers and the audience included people with dementia and their families and health professionals from all over Ireland , North and South. There were some very poignant moments that brought people to tears, but there was much laughter, hope and positivity too, and people left feeling uplifted and inspired that it is possible to live well with dementia. People are still talking to us about the conference, in shops, on the streets , in nursing homes and in the hospital. Tom Costello in his closing remarks described what is happening in South Tipperary as “ the beginning of a movement”. We want to build that movement now, together with people with dementia and their families, to ensure that the future for people with dementia is bright and positive and inclusive.