DEMENTIA care was highlighted yesterday at a pioneering conference.

The Making Sense of Dementia event held at Steam Museum, Firefly Avenue and hosted by the Great Western Hospital aimed to explore and challenge the facts surrounding dementia.

More than 200 healthcare professionals from across the region gathered to learn more about the condition, which currently affects one in three over 65 year olds.

Visitors had the chance to peruse a selection of stalls from different dementia friendly organisations including Alzheimer’s Support, Swindon Carer’s Centre and Swindon Advocacy Movement.

As well as discussions around current treatments and preventative measures, the day also looked at the many alternative approaches being taken by patients and their families to help manage their diagnosis.

Helen Booth, a trainer at GWH’s staff education centre said the day was about improving the quality of life for people with dementia.

She said: “There’s a real stigma around dementia. I think this is about education and letting people know more about it and about the support and care that is out there

“This event goes a long way to actually alleviate some of those worries and stress that people go through when dealing with dementia, whether it be as a friend, family member or carer.

“I really want people to live well with dementia and have that quality of life. That is what today is all about.”

There were speakers from organisations across the region, including the University of Bath, Alzheimer’s Support and the Royal Voluntary Service.

Grant Newton, head of day care services at Alzheimer’s Support took to the stage with his pooch Higby to discuss the invaluable role dogs can play in dementia care.

Higby and canine companion Dave attend dementia day clubs runs by the charity, where help members with all types of dementia gain confidence and companionship.

Stephany Bardzil from Alzheimer’s Support said:

“It is really important to be here today showing the evolution of dementia care. We have Higby here today who provides comfort and reassurance to the service users we have. Often they will become more confident as a result of Higby being there.

“Animals are a really integral part of making a person feel comfortable, there is a natural bond.”

Consultant psychiatrist Dr Simon Manchip also gave an empowering speech entitled ‘There is hope for the future’.

Dementia is a degenerative condition which impacts everyday brain functions, such as memory, thinking ability, language, understanding and judgement.

Guests also heard how music can play a big part in supporting a patient’s long-term memory, while also learning about common holistic treatment options such as aromatherapy and massage