Two Cornish student paramedics have visited Parliament for the launch of a major new report on dementia diagnosis.

Chloe French and Leah Vincent, who are both from Redruth and in their final year at the University of Plymouth, attended the launch of Raising the Barriers – a report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia.

The report highlights the regional variations in dementia diagnosis across England, and suggests that the support provided to those receiving and making diagnoses should be standardised right across the country.

The students were invited to attend by the university’s academic lead for dementia, Ian Sherriff BEM, after he delivered an ‘inspirational’ lecture on care to their cohort, highlighting the small and valuable differences they could make in their role on the front line.

Alongside the report launch, they met Debbie Abrahams MP and members of Alzheimer’s UK, as well as other report contributors who shared their personal experience of dementia diagnosis. 

They also met Sir Gary Streeter MP, to discuss their role as student paramedics, and Rachael Savage from Vamos Theatre Company, which focuses on telling stories about dementia to reduce its stigma.  

Ian, who gave evidence to the report earlier this year highlighting the dementia-related challenges facing rural communities, is one of the UK’s leading figures in dementia research and is chair of the prime minister’s Rural Dementia Friendly Task and Finish Group.

Leah said: “We feel so lucky to have had this experience, not only travelling to Parliament but also meeting figures from across the country who focus on dementia care. 

“Ian’s lecture was so inspirational and engaging, and it really made us think ‘what can we do to help?’, so to be invited to Parliament learn more, and ultimately apply what we’ve learned in our practice, is invaluable.

“As paramedics we might only be with a patient for two hours or so, but by better understanding dementia we’re well placed to give patients appropriate care, direct them to further help if necessary, and educate others on how to help.”

Chloe said: “Everyone knows someone affected by dementia. My grandad has dementia and, while he’s living well with it, it took him 18 months to be diagnosed.

“It’s not right that people with dementia have to wait so long and then, when they are diagnosed, their care can vary so much. 

“We need to push for their rights and ensure that they’re still treated as the individuals that they are, so this new report is so important.

“As student paramedics in a region with a high percentage of older people, we’re well placed to learn more and do something to improve care. Personally and professionally, we can make a difference.”