Dementia Dreammakers with Natasha Wilson

Dementia Dreammakers is an NPO based in Sheffield, founded and directed by Natasha Wilson: a passionate dementia specialist looking to improve wellbeing for those living with the condition, and change perceptions of life after a diagnosis.

We chatted with Natasha about her mission to educate about living with dementia.

What interested you in dementia in the first place?

“I’ve always had a professional interest in dementia; I have had some family members who have lived with dementia, and I remember from a young age my great grandad had a poor quality of life after his diagnosis. People who were professionally involved in his care tended not to interact with him, most likely because they didn’t understand fully what was happening to him or how to connect with him socially.

As a child, I always connected with older people which gave me a burning passion to pursue the career I have done. I naturally possess social curiosity, asking why people may do the things they do, rather than attaching labels & assumptions to them.

“This curiosity is what I am championing in my career in supporting people affected by dementia.

I want to help create a society where people living with dementia have more opportunities to achieve greater wellbeing, and destigmatise the negative connotations of a dementia diagnosis. People should be encouraged to live in the moment and with purpose whilst living with dementia.”

Why is the study of dementia so important in society?

“I believe we are so far behind in how we deal with dementia in modern society. It is very much overmedicalized as a condition – it’s cold and clinical. A person living with dementia or other cognitive impairments is often referred to as a set of symptoms, rather than a whole person.

The human and social side of dementia support is often neglected, especially when we compare it to other life limiting conditions like Parkinson’s disease or cancer, where a much more holistic view is taken. A lot of care in these areas is about improving the quality of life for the person, not just focusing on the illness itself.”

Dementia care is underfunded and misunderstood – Natasha is trying to improve this. As a Dementia Care Manager and associate lecturer in Dementia at the University of Worcester, she is a powerhouse of open-minded, positive ways of thinking when it comes to how we understand and accept dementia in society.

“I’m also conscious of the language and semantics we use regarding dementia. Words like ‘scary’ and ‘sufferer’ need to be avoided; those living with dementia can still have a great life and live with purpose. We need to change how we perceive life with a diagnosis.”

How did you get the idea for Dementia Dreammakers?

I was watching an advert for a children’s wish granting charity one night and thought “Why isn’t there something like that for people living with dementia?” So I did it! I wanted to do something practical and create an organisation that had the tools and opportunities for making real positive change.

Status Quo Success

Dementia Dreammakers managed to grant the wish of Jackie, who is a devoted Status Quo and Francis Rossi fan, and is living with young onset dementia. Using a grant from Sky Bet, they were able to pay for Jackie and her children to attend Francis Rossi’s show in Chesterfield and have a Meet & Greet with him afterwards.

“The Francis Rossi chat and tunes was amazing. My mum was so overwhelmed with it all, it brought her to tears” said her daughter, Aimee.

Visit the Dementia Dreammakers website here, read Natasha's success stories and apply for your wish to be granted here:

Dementia Dreammakers