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Dementia Friendly Kent Awards
Finalists 2023

We are delighted to announce this year's 16 shortlisted Finalists.  All Awards Winners are judged by people affected by dementia and their supporters.  The Awards Ceremony will take place on 19th May 2023 at 2pm as part of the larger Dementia Showcase Event at the Maidstone Exhibition Hall, Kent County Showground.

Dementia Friendly Organisation Award

This award recognises an organisation or business that has raised awareness of dementia through their internal teams and external contacts and has made specific improvements to benefit people affected by dementia who use their service. They will be able to describe what they did and the successes they have achieved.

Brachers LLP

Brachers LLP law firm frequently acts for (or on behalf of) people living with dementia and their families.  Their expertise is recognised by regular referrals from Mencap, Solicitors for the Elderly, Age UK and numerous professional advisors.  Brachers has many dementia advocates. One Partner is an Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador and has created over 1,350 Dementia Friends to date. Brachers belongs to Maidstone’s Dementia Friendly Community working together for positive change.  Partners have raised funds for dementia charities, e.g. through sponsored running and cycling events. Many staff feel strongly compelled to share their legal expertise to support the elderly and vulnerable.  For example, a Partner recently created a video and article with Hospice in the Weald on ‘getting your affairs in order’ and did a similar webinar with Mencap. Additionally, Brachers has delivered dementia friendly talks/webinars to local schools, clubs and charities, and been on the panel of e-conferences on topics relating to elderly and vulnerable clients.

Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust

Kent & Medway NHS and Social Care Partnership Trust have over the past 2 years been involved in a radical review and re-organisation of their pre-diagnosis, peri-diagnosis and post-diagnosis dementia services.  This process has fully included people affected by dementia, listening, and giving equal place at the table around proposed changes. Improvements have included the setting up of Dementia Co-Ordinators to support the person throughout their dementia journey.  They have also worked hard to provide more efficient and timely dementia diagnosis.  Dementia Envoys, who are people living with dementia, work with trust staff to run 6 dementia service user involvement groups.  They also link with a wide range of local and national organisations to improve understanding of dementia.  Other improvements include IT training and specific courses for people with dementia which are facilitated by someone living with dementia supported by a psychologist.  Learning from people with lived experience has significantly helped both people with dementia and their supporters.

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Albany Funerals

Albany Funerals is often in close contact with families affected by dementia and wanted to be able to help people in practical ways.  They started by becoming Dementia Friends which gave them more confidence in communicating with people struggling with memory or other issues.  They also have been able to pass on knowledge to families who have been frustrated and stressed with dealing with a bereavement on top of the symptoms of the disease of a close relative.  Small changes that make a big impact have been made such as always bringing foldable chairs and blankets to all funerals just in case someone needs to sit down, or is cold.  Albany Funerals joined the Maidstone Dementia Friendly Community and has worked hard to encourage other local businesses to follow their lead to make a difference to the lives of those living with dementia.  They have also partnered up with funeral celebrants to try and specifically make funeral services more dementia friendly.

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Most Inspiring Dementia Care Provider Award

This award recognises a care service that delivers significant emotional and practical benefits for people living with dementia and their families. This service will be able to demonstrate engagement with national and local dementia best practice initiatives which enhance the quality of their care. Feedback from those receiving care and support from this service will be very positive.

Heart of Kent Hospice

Heart of Kent Hospice is one of the first to offer a full Dementia Service to the community. Referrals are made from the point of diagnosis to ensure people have capacity to express their wishes and preferences for the future, and when there is an opportunity to help them live as well as possible.  The Dementia Service has over 400 patients, 47% of the Hospice’s entire caseload.  Continuity is important, so the Team never discharge anyone who has been referred to them. The team help people to maintain their independence and to prevent crises and needless hospital admissions.  They give expert advice, practical assistance and comfort wherever patients live.  They support carers to cope better, preparing them for how the illness will progress.  They work closely with other healthcare professionals and services (care homes, care agencies, voluntary agencies and hospitals) to provide a joined-up approach to each patient’s care in a way which is personalised to the needs of each individual.

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Age UK Tunbridge Wells

Age UK Tunbridge Wells is dedicated to making sure those living with dementia and their families are aware of and can access the support they need. They give free information, advice and advocacy - from understanding symptoms to finding support.  Last year they managed to save older people in their local area £861,336 by advising upon benefits they were entitled to.  Services include free monthly memory cafes, carers groups and peer support groups to reduce social isolation.  Cognitive Stimulation Therapy Groups run weekly to help to slow the progression of dementia and improve the quality of people’s lives by enhancing the ability to communicate. Weekly day care support and outreach is available to anyone living with dementia.  Whether the individual needs a peaceful environment to spend the day, help with personal care, a nutritious hot lunch, signposting to other services or simply to see a friendly face, this reliable service has been a lifeline to many living in the area.

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Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services (ADSS)

Alzheimer’s & Dementia Support Services (ADSS) is a local charity with a big heart and has been providing exceptional care and support to people and their carers who have been affected by dementia for over 30 years. ADSS provides memory cafes, day groups, support groups and activity groups all of which are invaluable in helping to live with dementia. Carers support groups recognise the need to support carers as well as those they care for. Home support services also allow carers to have independent time out of the house. ADSS employs dementia coordinators which enables everyone with dementia to have a named contact throughout their journey. Services are co-produced or adapted to meet the needs of the person with dementia and their families. The service is completely person-centred, committed to raising awareness across Kent, sharing knowledge and offering training where requested. Everyone is willing to go the extra mile to support people with dementia to live their best lives.


Symone Salwan - Outstanding Contribution to Dementia Award

This award recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution through practical and measurable actions to improve the quality of life of people living with dementia in our county. They will also have inspired others to follow their example through collaborative and supportive ideas and practice.

Christine Parker

Christine Parker is an inspirational advocate for raising awareness of Dementia Friendly Communities throughout Tonbridge and beyond. She constantly looks for new opportunities, has raised significant sponsorship, charitable funds and has an amazing way of engaging with and delivering awareness to community groups, schools, business and individuals. She has set up dementia cafes and events all over the area which are invaluable to patrons, their carers and partners and has encouraged other community groups to do the same. She produces a monthly events calendar so people can see exactly what is going on, she is available with information, useful contacts and has a very good listening ear. She was instrumental in working with Tonbridge Borough Council to set up a Dementia Sensory Walk in Tonbridge which opened in 2022.  Christine works tirelessly to improve understanding and the quality of life for people who use the groups and services she began.

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Wendy Richley

Wendy Richley is an inspirational retired nurse, generous with her time and expertise. She liaised with key people and services supporting people living with dementia across Romney Marsh, she also consulted with people using existing services in the community.  Wendy then went about setting up five Memory Cafes across the rural area providing physical support and advice whilst ensuring that she encouraged others to continue and sustain the groups. As a Dementia Friends Ambassador, Wendy provides multiple awareness session across the area to underpin understanding and to motivate people. As trustee of the Romney Marsh Community Hub, she was the instigator of the Dementia Friendly Community group, and successfully secured funds to book the virtual dementia tour bus. Wendy has a tireless and infectious enthusiasm, she understands what people affected by dementia need; to be able to live life the way they want to, Wendy has facilitated groups to achieve this.

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Liz Jennings

Liz Jennings takes people who think dementia means they can’t, and turns them into poets, writers and people who know they can achieve something new and go on to continue writing and challenging themselves. Liz runs groups in East Kent using life writing sessions, poetry and popular music as a way to enable people living with dementia to express themselves and show who they are through words and photographs. The outcome of improved well-being and confidence that Liz’s courses give people is evident with people writing and reading poetry, some performing their work publicly and some published in a book.  Her philosophy of collaboration and understanding also resulted in her groups working with English Heritage and the Canterbury Festival who went on to dementia awareness sessions for their teams.  Liz has improved the lives of countless people across East Kent and she shares her work nationally inspiring others to follow her example to improve the lives of many more. 

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Most Dementia Friendly Community Award

This award recognises the valuable work that dementia friendly community groups have achieved in the last 2 years. It may include supportive adaptations made through Covid and how the group succeeded in reaching out or kick-started successful initiatives after Covid restrictions ended. The group will be able to demonstrate measurable success for projects they have undertaken to improve the lives of people living with dementia.

Tonbridge Dementia Friendly Community (DFC)

Tonbridge Dementia Friendly Community (DFC) post Covid lockdown, has raised sufficient funds to build a sensory walk at Tonbridge Sportsground. The walk consists of a series of information boards set at regular intervals around a laid out and identifiable pathway, with each board showing information about different aspects of life in the town. There are details about nearby flora and interesting facts relating to nature. Most of the boards have an interactive post beside them. The DFC also managed to set up and continues to run three dementia cafes, a dementia carers peer support group and a dementia choir and were able to fund days out on the River Medway. The group has actively encouraged partner charities and organisations throughout the borough to set up dementia friendly activities within their own structure and support groups. Tonbridge and Malling has more accessible support and activity groups than any other borough in the county.

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SUNshiners - shining a light on dementia are a welcoming group of people living with dementia in Shepway/Dover/Deal supported by KMPT NHS and the Dementia Engagement and Empowerment Project (DEEP).  Group members work collaboratively to increase awareness of dementia within the community and organisations, to reduce the stigma that is often associated with dementia and to encourage a more balanced and positive view of how to live well with dementia. Projects include- DEEP grant for research into the invisibility of dementia in our communities, this is being put forward for formal publishing.  Awareness of dementia for children with leaflets now in schools as a resource. The use of and learning sign language in dementia to enhance communication. Keeping active advice and encouraging words as a welcome pack for people newly diagnosed. Voices of DEEP groups standing together with poems and banner unfurling and celebrating getting back together after lockdown as an event.


Oasis Academy Dementia Group

Oasis Academy Dementia Group students who have been working in the community for the last 10 years supporting people with dementia. The last two years they have worked hard to adapt during lockdown.  Writing letters to let people know they were not forgotten, delivering Christmas and Easter gifts on Sheppey and in Sittingbourne. When they were able, they observed the ‘rule of six’ creating afternoon tea safely in the community. All students were tested and wore PPE. The afternoon tea lasted for an hour or so then everything was sterilised and set again for the next six people and so on. When possible, they worked with Minster Parish, the Sheppey Community Support Bus, the Salvation Army Sheerness, and Sheerness Town Council to provide more events. During the Jubilee they had over 100 attend the Academy, messages were sent to HM the Queen; they were delighted to receive a reply. Their work has received many prestigious awards.


Community and Partnership Project Award

This award recognises those who have worked collaboratively with another organisation, community group or business to succeed in a project or initiative that has improved the lives of people living with dementia. They will be able to demonstrate how they approached partnership working, what they did, and how the project or initiative has succeeded.

Valley Park Decaf & Wrinkly Network

After dementia awareness sessions provided by the Wrinkly Network and a person living with dementia, the six formers at Valley Park School took the learning and began a project to give back to the community.  DECAF is an in-house event supporting local people living with dementia. Each term the students run a dementia café with the whole school involved providing lunch and entertainment involving  health & social care, arts, sports and catering students. DECAF provide gift boxes at Christmas and delivered Covid gift boxes locally during lockdown. This collaborative ethos has grown and the school has embedded the project across the curriculum with activities, logos and business plans developed to raise further funds making their initiative sustainable. Their target was £1,000 and they have raised £8,800 to date. Dementia awareness has played an important role in educating younger generations and the DECAF project is a big attraction to new students at Valley Park School.

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The East Kent Forget-me-nots

The East Kent Forget-me-nots are a group of extraordinary people living with dementia.   They are a group supported by KMPT plus university students and volunteers and local charities.  The group was established 10 years ago.  In October 2022 they worked in collaboration with the Canterbury Festival of the Arts working incredibly hard to organise a creative well-being day for people living with dementia, their families and friends, in the local community. The event featured readings, music, singing, painting, poetry and paper craft, photography workshops and an information stand. It was the first time dementia had featured at the heart of any of the Canterbury Festival events. The day was a celebration and an inspiring example of bringing the public and services together to gain better understanding. There were tears and laughter and people attending left with hope, positivity, and a drive to challenge misconceptions, fear and isolation.

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Romney Marsh Community Hub

Romney Marsh Community Hub helped St Mary’s Bay Sunflower Memory Café to relaunch after Covid Lockdown and saved this vital rural service so it was not lost providing funding for venues, refreshment and volunteers.  The Hub moves from strength to strength and are part of the Dementia & Me East Kent contract with a link coordinator and all cafes continue to improve the lives of people in the area by providing a safe place for socialisation, conversation, peer support, outings and activities. There are participative singing sessions, information and close links with social care partners ConnectWell and Social Prescriber.  Some patrons also take part in the Time 4 Dementia Programme, linking medical students with café patrons to improve their understanding of dementia. The Community Hub are part of the Romney Marsh DFC, have been recognised as a Dementia Friendly Organisation and also plan to open a third Memory Café in Dymchurch in 2023.

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Sevenoaks Community Hospital - The Sevenoaks Emporium

Sevenoaks Community Hospital - The Sevenoaks Emporium was a day room that was rarely used by patients. Grahame Hardy, lead dementia nurse, had a vision to transform it into a dementia friendly welcoming space for patients, visitors and staff to promote wellbeing. Patients with dementia recalled memories of a traditional sweet shop where they spent pocket money or taking children to the corner shop for groceries. The plan was to build a retro convenience store, incorporating vintage furniture, counter, tea services, market barrow and vintage cash register. Most equipment was donated by the community or purchased with funding and donations. Special murals were made as a shop backdrop inside and outside as a shop front and bus stop.  There is fresh fruit, sweets in jars and vintage food containers. Rummage boxes and antique toys complete the picture. This room is now used by all and serves to lessen anxiety in patients living with dementia.

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