Andy Tysoe, Greater Manchester Coordinator for The Sporting Memories Foundation, and the Dementia Lead and Chair of Warrington Clinical Commissioning Group’s Dementia Transformation Board

After a hectic and varied 35 years working in the NHS as a Registered Mental Health Nurse, I decided to take early retirement from nursing and pursue a different path, mixing my passions for dementia care and sport. The Sporting Memories Foundation is a national charity which promotes the use of sports reminiscence to improve the wellbeing of older people and help tackle dementia, depression and social isolation.

Days are still as varied as ever, but now involve a different kind of ‘varied’, and my most enjoyable days are the ones that involve all my new roles in one!


Today is a busy one and full of ‘firsts’, so start by checking my email accounts and making sure I have everything I need for the day. Today, the morning belongs to Sporting Memories with me facilitating the first session of a newly formed group for people with dementia in a North Manchester nursing home. The afternoon is with Warrington CCG chairing my first Dementia Transformation Board.


I arrive at the Moston Grange Care home to be met by Kay, with whom I job-share. After a coffee and pre-meet with staff, the group kicks off unexpectedly with one resident sharing a joke that I’m still laughing at now – the one about a lobster going to a prawn cocktail party and pulling a mussel! The group couldn’t have gone better – supported by the fantastic staff from the home, the hour flew by. One gent interacted for the first time in ages, we discovered fascinating new facts about some of the other residents, and a life-long Man City fan who doesn’t communicate well verbally, sang along to ‘Blue Moon’ with a clarity that brought a lump in my throat. The group ended with a retro ‘Spot-the-ball’ competition and quiz – a great morning’s work.


I arrive early at Warrington CCG’s headquarters for the 2pm board meeting and have a quick catch-up with my new boss Margi. For background, Margi attended one of my #DementiaDO…the Basics education sessions earlier in the year. I was approached a short while afterwards with an opportunity to be the new chair and bring a fresh perspective and challenge to the board. #DementiaDO is my campaign to support the rights of people with dementia, and challenge negative perceptions of dementia by offering free-to attend education sessions for all. The session is a unique blend of NHS-endorsed education and Dementia Friends, an Alzheimer’s Society initiative. To date, over 7400 people have attended, creating over 7000 new Dementia Friends – including Simon Stevens, Chief Exec of the NHS and my ultimate line manager! We also encourage people to stop talking about supporting people with dementia and start doing, hence the ‘DO’ bit in the hashtag. I was given a warm welcome, coffee and my new ID badge.


The meeting starts with round the table introductions, including roles and context. I admit to feeling slightly nervous and outside my comfort zone. My first challenge to the transformation board was to ask the question ‘What aspects of dementia had actually been transformed by the board over the past two years?’ The answers were varied and honest, not only reflecting the fantastic work so far, but also highlighting the work to be done, including the crucial addition of the voice of the person with dementia at the table. Another issue for me that needs tackling is: we know dementia is a physical brain disease not a mental health condition, we know that it does  not just cause memory issues and we know it doesn’t just happen to the over-65’s – so why is it that people get referred to the Older Persons Mental Health Memory Services? Now we definitely need to #DementiaDO something about that!


With the drafting of a ‘to-do’ list for the new year, the meeting draws to a close and, as I drive home, am left reflecting on the challenge ahead and the amazing people I have just met today, all passionate about making a difference for people with dementia and their carers


Our thanks to Independent Nurse magazine where this article first appeared in the December 2018 edition. 

Andy Tysoe is area co-ordinator for Greater Manchester, find out more about the Sporting Memories Clubs running across the region here