In the shoes of… Dr Karim Saad | Regional Clinical Lead for Dementia | NHS West Midlands


For Day 4  of our series of ‘walk in my shoes’ blogposts, looking at dementia from different perspectives, I am delighted to welcome Dr Karim Saad, one of my Twitter pals (@KarimS3D) and an advisor in dementia healthcare globally. Karim shares some excellent resources and proposes a very practical solution to reinforce the important lesson that dementia awareness starts in school!

Let’s avoid graduating another generation ashamed of the D word!

David Cameron, in his Challenge on Dementia launched March 2012, prioritised setting up dementia friendly communities and awareness. I propose a solution to kick-start this into action.

In 2008 an Ipsos MORI poll exposed the extent of our public’s ignorance of dementia. This regional survey, which also focused on teenagers, confirmed that both their knowledge gaps and levels of engagement merited action.

We designed an online user-friendly downloadable teaching aid to raise awareness of dementia aimed at year 8 secondary school pupils. This free toolkit included: a film, a PowerPoint presentation and 2 lesson plans.

Four films on our award-winning digital platform ‘NHS Local’ capture the benefits.

Pupils who underwent the 60 minute session were more likely to:

1)      Understand dementia including its common causes
2)      Appreciate the difficulties of being a carer
3)      Grasp assistive technologies and their different applications

But gains went beyond lesson plan objectives.

As pupils debated dementia in the classroom, they began to enunciate the foundations for developing compassionate communities. Some of those 12 year olds, our future workforce, were expanding their capacity for caring. Others were contemplating a caring career or one where they can design even better technologies for people living with dementia.

Their grasp of the ‘preventative’ intervention was heartening to see. A paradigm shift towards ‘care closer to home’ was effortlessly unfolding before their young minds and our surprise. They were close to grasping the importance of ‘ownership’ of their personal wellbeing, otherwise known as ‘self-help’, a concept some of their parents still struggle with.

Highly relevant don’t you think?

After all, not only is binge drinking now synonymous with youth culture, but also poor dietary and lifestyle habits leave much room for nudging younger minds into transformative action.

On describing her grandfather’s dementia-induced personality change on film, one teenager poignantly reflected: “I wish that someone had told me..”

So above all, let’s not let our youngsters down, and let’s put a stop to graduating another generation that is ashamed of the D word!

Dr Karim Saad FRCPsych
Alzheimer COoperative Valuation in Europe (ALCOVE)
Regional Clinical Lead for Dementia, NHS West Midlands
Consultant Psychiatrist, Coventry & Warwickshire Partnership Trust

*NEW*: Karim’s 3D BLOG

An opportunity to advance European healthcare policies for people living with dementia and their carers..

We slashed their antipsychotics and this happened….

UPDATE! 23 October 2012

Excellent article by Dr Karim Saad in ‘Nursing Times’ updating us on this ground-breaking anti-stigma project. Delighted to learn that 21 schools are now using the ‘NHS Local’ resources.  This initiative has a bit of everything – empathy, inter-generational working and compassion. The BEST practice!

AND Karim’s blog updating on progress in schools project, 10 Nov 2012 

In the shoes of… Dr Penny Hibberd | Director | Dementia Services Development Centre South East (

About Gill Phillips - Whose Shoes?

Passionate about personalisation in health & social care. Creator of Whose Shoes? - an imaginative approach to helping people work together to improve lives.
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10 Responses to In the shoes of… Dr Karim Saad | Regional Clinical Lead for Dementia | NHS West Midlands

  1. begethers says:

    Thank you for this inspiring and significant post. How do we scale this kind of intervention? Young minds and hearts are more open. We can create and sustain a compassionate response to each other – I wonder if the young people are treating each other and their families with awareness and kindness as a result of the programme.


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