The importance of knowing about dementia

Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain which can affect memory, everyday tasks, communication and perception. It is not a result of the normal ageing process.

There are over 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK and this figure is set to rise.

82% of the public believe people with dementia and their carers need more help and support.

Churches and faith-based organisations have an important role to play in ensuring people living with dementia can continue to live their lives and be an active part of their communities for as long as possible.

Many of our parishioners will develop dementia or be caring for someone who does. By being more dementia friendly, we can help and support them to continue practicing their faith.

We can ensure our parishioners are more aware of dementia, helping to reduce stigma and encouraging them to access support services or receive a diagnosis.

10 Top Tips for supporting people with dementia

Do you sometimes feel at a loss when you meet someone with dementia?

Do you wonder what to say?

These 10 Top Tips give simple, practical advice.

Every parish in the Archdiocese has received a supply of leaflets containing these tips.

Additional copies are available from the Pastoral Formation Department 0151 522 1040 or

The leaflet can also be downloaded here.

Our Dementia Action Plan

In response to the growing incidence of dementia, the Archdiocese has recently joined all the Dementia Action Alliances covering the whole of the Archdiocese (Liverpool, Sefton, St Helens, Warrington, Wigan, Halton and Lancashire), committing us initially to four actions:
Action 1: To make the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends awareness programme available in all our parish communities: this would be provided where possible by parishioners or diocesan personnel who are already Dementia Champions and in other areas directly by the Alzheimer’s Society.
Action 2: To include the Dementia Friends awareness session in the initial training of all Eucharistic Ministers and Permanent Deacons and in the regular in-service training offered to Bereavement Teams, Funeral Ministers and the clergy.
Action 3: To encourage compliance with the DAA’s Environment Checklist by providing training to our diocesan surveyors based on that document to ensure that the needs of people with dementia are considered in all future projects and in the regular reviews of existing buildings.
Action 4: To review the pastoral care of diocesan priests living with dementia.
The first step to implementing the first action is to discover parishioners who are already Dementia Friends Champions or who would be willing to undertake the one-day training course to become Dementia Friends Champions so that they can offer the Dementia Friends awareness session to other parishioners.
If you are a Dementia Friends Champion, or you would like to become one, please contact Maureen Knight at the Pastoral Formation Department, 0151 522 1046,
You can find out more about the training at
The diocesan Action Plan drawn up by our Dementia Working Group can be viewed now and will be regularly updated on the Dementia Action Alliance website where it is listed as Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool:

Our Dementia Action Plan – Latest Updates on Progress

Action 1: Dementia Friends awareness in parishes: recruiting Champions and setting up sessions. 
We have met our short term target for Friends sessions to have taken place in 25 parishes by June: at least 26 parishes have held sessions. Our target for the next update in September, bearing in mind the usual slowdown in the summer months is for a further 10 parishes to hold Friends sessions. 41 volunteers have now completed Champions training, and 25 have booked onto courses or are intending to do so.
Action 2: Dementia Friends Training for key personnel.
The Dementia Friends session has been written into the programme for initial training of Eucharistic Ministers and Bereavement Teams: two training days for Eucharistic Ministers including the Friends session and  one for Bereavement Teams have taken place and the Friends session will be included in the next annual training course for new Funeral Ministers, in November. Over 130 people, including clergy, religious sisters, Funeral Ministers, Bereavement Team members and School Chaplains attended a day conference led by Professor June Andrews of Stirling University and Gina Shaw from the Service Users Reference Forum (SURF). One of our hospital chaplains has trained as a Dementia Champion and is planning to offer the Friends session to the chaplaincy volunteers at their AGM in July. The Friends session has been written into the initial training of candidates for diaconate beginning in September. Including the Friends session in the inservice offered to clergy is still at the planning stage.
Action 3: Training for Surveyors.
All the members of the Archdiocesan Surveyors Department participated enthusiastically in the Dementia Friends session in May. One of the surveyors has registered for training as a Dementia Champion and attended the Alzheimers’ Society seminar on making Liverpool a dementia friendly city. The Department has the Alzheimer’s Society ‘Dementia Friendly Physical Environments Checklist’ and a copy of both volumes of ‘Designing 4 Dementia’. Our long term target is the rolling out of the Dementia Friends session to other diocesan personnel and the preparation of an archdiocesan design guidance note for dementia friendly churches and accommodation for priests.
Action 4: Reviewing Care for Retired Priests.
The Archdiocesan Adviser for Sick and Retired Clergy has written to all the Deans, requesting an invitation to each of their regular clergy meetings to introduce himself and explain the relevance of the Archdiocesan Dementia Working Group and has attended six of the 23 area meetings so far. He has begun the process of visiting each of the sick and retired priests to review their needs. Our short term target is for him to visit a further six area meetings before the next update in September.

Becoming a Dementia Friendly Church

Over 130 people gathered at LACE on 17th May for a conference on ‘Becoming a Dementia Friendly Church’. The day began with a beautiful prayer service led by Fr Chris Thomas, about everyone being welcome, in which we were all given a white rose and invited to place it in the central focal point as a symbol of our care for people living with dementia.
Fr Chris Fallon reported on the four key points of the Archdiocesan action plan and the progress that had been made since the Archdiocese joined the Dementia Action Alliance.
The four main sessions were led by June Andrews, Professor Emeritus at Stirling University, former director of the Dementia Services Development Centre and author of Dementia: The One Stop Guide. In the morning Professor Andrews spoke about understanding dementia and the experience of people with dementia. After lunch Gina Shaw, the ‘poster girl’ for the Alzheimers’ Society Dementia Friends movement, spoke about her own experience of living well with dementia. Then Professor Andrews helped us to reflect on the role of parishes and chaplaincies in the pastoral and spiritual care of people with dementia and their carers, and what a dementia friendly parish might look like.
Here are a few examples of the ideas that people attending the conference took away with them:
• Let people know we want to be a dementia friendly parish
• Hold Dementia Friends sessions for everyone in the parish, especially those who visit the sick
• Improve the lighting and signage in our churches and community rooms
• Don’t stop visiting because someone has dementia – maintaining relationships is vital
• Recruit more Dementia Champions
• Sing one old hymn at every service
• Train all hospital visitors to make sure patients keep drinking to maintain their hydration
• Start a ‘cuppa and natter’ group or a community choir, open to everyone, including those living with dementia and their carers

Dementia Friendly Carol Service 2016

The first ever Dementia Friendly Carol Service in Liverpool’s Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King was like a dream come true. Our Archdiocesan Dementia Working Group was formed over a year ago to raise awareness of the needs of the growing numbers of people living with dementia and those who care for them.   
One of the group came up with the idea of a Dementia Friendly Carol Service so we formed the ‘Songs We Remember’ Dementia Friendly Choir, with Sister Moira Meeghan leading 45 people in rehearsals. 
All parishes within the Archdiocese received an invitation to send people to join the choir and were encouraged to invite all the care homes in their area to bring their residents to the carol service. 
Archbishop Malcolm led the Service with Bishop Tom Williams, and students from St Teresa of Lisieux Primary School, Norris Green, and Great Crosby Primary School sang carols alongside the ‘Songs We Remember’ Choir while pupils from English Martyrs Primary School, Litherland, acted out the parts to accompany the simple narration of the Christmas story prepared by Father Chris Thomas. 
Over 700 people heard Archbishop Malcolm explain that the service was being held because we care about those living with dementia and that it was wonderful to gather with people of all ages to celebrate God’s love made visible in the child born for us all at Christmas. 
The service was not just a ‘one-off’ event and the ‘Songs We Remember’ Choir will continue meeting in Waterloo at 11.00 am every second Wednesday (the next one is 8th February) and will always welcome new members.  We hope those parishes which have not yet held a Dementia Friends Information session will do so during 2017. 
On Friday 19 May, Professor June Andrews, author of ‘Dementia The One Stop Guide’, will be returning to the Archdiocese for another one-day conference at LACE. The five-point action plan for the Archdiocese is listed as Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool on the Dementia Action Alliance website:
To arrange a Dementia Friends Information session in your parish, and find out about how you can become involved in this initiative, contact Maureen Knight at the Pastoral Formation Department, Tel: 0151 522 1046, email