Six associations embark on Membership Development Programme at Alzheimer University

The annual Alzheimer University (AU) assists emerging Alzheimer and dementia associations.

On 6 to 8 October, ADI hosted its annual Alzheimer University for emerging Alzheimer and dementia associations.

Organised around the theme of ‘How to set up an effective organisation,’ the two-day event marked the beginning of the Membership Development Programme (MDP) for six associations, including The Bahamas Alzheimer’s Association, Action on Alzheimer’s & Dementia Bermuda, Dementia Lithuania, the Alzheimer’s Society of Maldives, Association Comprendre la Maladie d’Alzheimer Mali and Obras Sociais Viseu – Centro Apoio Alzheimer in Portugal.  

Board members from Huelo Alzheimer’s Tonga and Al Oun For Alzheimer’s Patient Care Association also attended as observers for ‘refresher’ sessions. 

Held for the second time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic and in a virtual format, the Alzheimer University schedule was packed with various modules, workshops and presentations from the ADI team, as well as Dementia Alliance International (DAI), DEEP UK and ADI member associations. 

The ADI team hosted a range of modules for the associations, which ranged from ‘Ensuring the effectiveness of an organisation’ with CEO Paola Barbarino, to ‘Public policy and campaigning’ with Policy & Communications Manager Lewis Arthurton. 

Amalia Fonk-Utomo, Head of Accreditation, as well as Deputy Executive at Alzheimer’s Indonesia, hosted a joint session with Gavin Terry, Head of Policy at Alzheimer’s Society (UK), on ‘Raising profile and awareness’. Honorary Vice President Nori Graham also presented two individual modules on ‘Setting up support groups’ and ‘Governance and role of the Board in an association’. 

Brain games with Alzheimer’s Indonesia.

Associations agreed that their favourite session was ‘Living with dementia’ with Rachel Niblock, Coordinator of DEEP UK and George Rook, Gail Gregory and Gerry King, all of whom are living with dementia. During the session, the associations watched two videos.  

The first video, ‘4 Amigos’, focused on support groups and the general experience of living with dementia, while the second video featured Gerry, who talked about his own experience of diagnosis and subsequently, joining a peer support group. Following the videos, an open discussion was held with the MDPs. 

Participants had also watched videos from Jennifer Bute, Kate Swaffer and Emily Ong (DAI) prior to the session.

To help mitigate screen fatigue, different activities were scheduled throughout the two days. These activities ranged from a meditation session with Vidya Shenoy of Alzheimer’s & Related Disorders Society India (ARDSI) to brain gym exercises run by Alzheimer’s Indonesia. An informal discussion was also held with two ADI Membership Committee members, Lorene Gilly, France Alzheimer and Beverley Mirando, Lanka Alzheimer’s Foundation, who provided insight on their experience as ADI members.

Encouraging the development of relationships between MDPs, a key component of the usually in-person Alzheimer University, associations were divided into break-out rooms to play the ‘Two truths and one lie’ game and to find something they had in common with each other.  

At the end of the two days, the associations all presented their action plans for the next 2 years of the MDP, containing 3 main objectives. Progress towards these objectives will be monitored and evaluated after 6, 12 and 18 months.

Follow-up sessions will be organised so participants can regroup and discuss how things are going and what challenges they are faced with along the way. 

Reflecting on the first Virtual Alzheimer University, Paulette Davis, Founder of The Bahama Alzheimer’s Association, said:

I just want to express my heartfelt gratitude. What a wonderful programme with great information, great presenters and laid out to be enjoyable. I was not expecting so much and I look forward to developing our relationship with you as we develop our association. Thank you, thank you.

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