Recognition for university’s mental health and dementia initiatives

Recognition for university’s mental health and dementia initiatives

Two University of Cumbria health initiatives are in the running for prestigious education awards.

A dementia symposium and the university’s Festival of Mental Health are finalists in the Educate North 2020 Awards.

The initiatives aim to strengthen students’ knowledge and expertise as well as improve standards and effectiveness of patient care. They are organised by academics and staff within the nursing team of the university’s Institute of Health.

Shortlisted in the student experience category, the dementia symposium was developed in 2015 by the university, student ambassadors and local dementia care experts.

Designed to reflect the changing national landscape for dementia training and dispel myths and misunderstandings about the condition, the annual symposium is for the university’s first-year trainee nurses.

With a range of speakers, activities and experiences for students, it provides a level of specialised dementia training above what is expected for those on nursing degrees.

Law firms, advocacy services, carers and those living with dementia take part, helping to ensure student nurses develop a greater understanding of how healthcare professionals can better support those in need.

Meanwhile the Festival of Mental Health, which coincides with World Mental Health Day every October, has been shortlisted in the community engagement (university sector) category.

The festival is a celebration of wellbeing and offers help and support to all through its array of workshops including mindfulness, gardening, yoga and creative arts as well as an art festival, talks, and a ‘marketplace’ of local charities, organisations and institutions.

Raising funds for local charities, the festival’s patron is author, broadcaster and peer Melvyn Bragg, who is an honorary fellow of the university and a past president of the national charity Mind.

Professor Brian Webster-Henderson, Pro Vice Chancellor (Health) at the University of Cumbria said: “I am absolute delighted that the innovation and creative ideas of the academic staff within the Institute of Health have been recognised by the shortlisting in both these categories.

“Our strategic intention at the university is to educate our students and staff, promote the importance of wellbeing and care that is required to individuals in all parts of our society.

“Members of our communities who live with mental health problems  or those living with dementia  deserve the highest quality of care from knowledgeable and evidence based practitioners.”

Steven McCarthy-Grunwald, the university’s mental health nursing lead, said: “The importance of promoting positive mental health is embedded in the ethos of the nursing programme.

“Consequently, the creation of the Festival of Mental Health was something we saw as a natural progression to offer staff, students, healthcare practitioners and members of the public a forum with which to find way of supporting and developing such a vital aspect of their health and wellbeing.

“As such, we are both pleased and proud to have been shortlisted for the award as recognition for the work which has gone into developing this project.”

The Educate North Awards celebrate, recognise and share best practice and excellence in the education section in northern England. Winners will be announced on 23 April.