A PENSIONER with dementia has told of his support for a world-first project.

Eddie Wood was diagnosed four years ago and is supporting Time for Dementia, a scheme set up to help those with thee condition.

Time for Dementia aims to help medical, nursing and paramedic students learn more about the condition and help improve the way people with the illness are cared for.

The programme is being run by Brighton and Sussex Medical School in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association and the University of Surrey.

Mental health trusts in Sussex and Surrey are also taking part in the two year scheme.

The project will involve 800 students spending regular time with families affected by dementia over two years.

About 200 families in Sussex and Surrey are currently taking part and the hope is to recruit at least 400.

Mr Wood lives with his wife Mary in Eastbourne.

Mr Wood, 70, was diagnosed with dementia four years ago and is determined to do what he can to help others.

He said: “"I'll do anything I can to help bring about changes.

"Every single person who has dementia is different and they need to be treated that way.

"When anyone with dementia goes into hospital they're out of their comfort zone.

"This sort of programme is so important because if doctors and nurses can have a better understanding of people with dementia and their needs their stay in hospital and their overall treatment is going to be much better."

Mrs Wood, 68, said: “I want change, not just for Eddie, but for all people with dementia.

“We will do all we can to help the health professionals of tomorrow get a better understanding of what living with dementia is like.

Our experience of Time for Dementia has been so positive. I'd really encourage other families to get involved.”

Students will visit a family three or four times a year for up to two hours each time.

The idea is to improve knowledge, attitudes and empathy towards people with dementia and their carers.

The project is led by Sube Banerjee, who works at the medical school and for Sussex Partnership NHS Foundation Trust.

He said: “We want to help healthcare students understand what it is really like to live with a long-term health condition like dementia.

“They will learn about what it is to be old and ill in society, and how people adapt and manage living with serious long-term illness over time. This will help build compassion and understanding. It will help equip them for their future careers as health professionals and help us provide better care.

“This is the most ambitious programme of its type anywhere in the world, and we envisage that it will change the way in which healthcare students of the future learn about dementia.”

Families interested in taking part can sign up at www.joindementiaresearch.nihr.ac.uk/ or call 0300 1115111 or 0300 2221122.