Leeds physios hit 10,000 steps a day to help raise money for patients with dementia

A group of Leeds NHS physiotherapists has raised several hundred pounds for dementia patients by running a Step Up for Dementia event in October.

The event – hosted by the Leeds Teaching Hospital Trust Physiotherapy Dementia Champions – saw one of the group, Vikki Norman, achieve the highest step count of 708,449 steps in October.

Each individual in teams set their own targets for a minimum number of steps a day to raise money for the Alzheimer’s Society as they campaign for change, fund research to find a cure and support people living with dementia today.

The group usually does cake sales and planned to do a group activity but this was not feasible due to the current restrictions of Covid-19.

Physiotherapist Jemma Cooney personally wanted to raise awareness and funds for the society and what it provides for people who live day to day with dementia.

She said: “After the initial wave of COVID-19 I saw the negative effects that social isolation had on those living with dementia, and therefore wanted to raise money to keep support available such as ‘Talking Point’, an online forum where people with dementia can connect with people going through the same experiences from the safety of their homes.”

Despite the pandemic they continue to treat Alzheimer patients and they receive the same level of care as they would pre-pandemic.

However, Jemma said: “Alzheimer patients may feel more vulnerable in hospital due to the need to wear protective equipment such as face masks and gowns, which can make staff look less approachable and scary.

“Those with memory loss will also forget that there is a pandemic and therefore could potentially put themselves at risk by wanting to leave the wards without facemasks”.

Florida Graydon, a physiotherapist and active supporter of the Alzheimer’s Society, believes this event is a great way to put their group forward and encourage many more Physiotherapists to be dementia champions.

“People can participate and help increase awareness of Alzheimer’s and dementia by sharing posts on social media platforms and joining groups too. There are a lot of dementia groups and charitable institutions that are being advertised on social media”.

As physiotherapists and dementia champions, they are effective practitioners applying their knowledge and skills in assessment and treatment of people living with dementia. They are sensitive to their needs as well as their carers too.

There are also free courses online that members of the public can take part in to understand dementia further and learn how they can help make lives easier for those with dementia in the community.

They raised over £350 for the Alzheimer’s Society which can help over 1800 people access Talking Point and fund a telephone-based dementia advisor for a day.

Jemma Cooney said: “Alzheimer’s is not an illness that you can see. Anyone you come across in the community could have a form of dementia and may need your support. This could be helping give directions, finding something in a supermarket, someone feeling scared, panicked, or lost. These people require kindness and understanding and usually someone to offer them help in a calm manner.”        

People can still donate on their fundraising event found on their Facebook page. https://www.facebook.com/LTHT-Physiotherapy-Dementia-Champions-102455058296311

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