Alzheimer’s Society announces game-changing dementia support for sportspeople

Leading bodies in football, rugby and cricket have joined forces with Alzheimer’s Society to launch a pioneering support scheme for members affected by dementia.

The League Managers Association (LMA), Professional Cricketers’ Association (PCA), Rugby Players Association (RPA) and Welsh Rugby Players Association (WRPA) have all introduced a permanent way of referring any past and present player or manager who has either been diagnosed with dementia or is caring for a loved one.

This initiative aims to make the process of getting dedicated dementia support as easy and swift as possible for current and ex-professionals. Members will benefit from personalised advice and practical and emotional support from Alzheimer’s Society’s frontline experts, to help them live well with the condition and better prepare for the future.

The scheme, which is part of Alzheimer’s Society’s Sport United Against Dementia campaign, has already resulted in people being referred to the leading dementia charity from The LMA and has been praised by the likes of sports broadcaster Hayley McQueen.

Richard Bevan OBE, Chief Executive of the League Managers Association and Alzheimer’s Society Sport United Against Dementia Board member, said: “We have already seen first-hand how vital this referral pathway is for our members and their families affected by dementia. It is important to us that, alongside our existing range of dementia support services, our entire membership of current and former managers have access to the specialist services provided by Alzheimer’s Society, so they can access this type of specialist support and guidance when they most need it, and live well with dementia.”

Sky Sports News anchor Hayley McQueen, and her father, former Manchester United player Gordon McQueen, who was diagnosed with vascular dementia in January 2021, are both currently benefitting from Alzheimer’s Society’s services.

Rich Bryan, Player Welfare Director of Rugby Players Association said: “We’re delighted to be working with Alzheimer’s Society and its Sport United Against Dementia campaign. It’s important to us that we support all our members from the moment they sign their first professional contracts, throughout their playing careers, and beyond. By having these referral routes in places, we can help make sure any of our members who may be diagnosed with dementia get the expert support they need.”

James King, Interim CEO of Welsh Rugby Players Association said: “Too many are facing dementia alone without adequate support - we are fully behind Alzheimer’s Society in its mission to help reach everyone affected by dementia and make sure they get the support and information they need. By embedding a referral system into our services, our members will know it’s there if they need it, and live the life they choose for longer.”

Hayley McQueen added: “Alzheimer’s Society is there for everyone affected by dementia, the person living with it and their loved ones; I’m so grateful to know there’s a charity out there to help people through such a hard time. The charity’s services have been used more than six million times since March 2020 and are a lifeline for so many families like mine. These referral pathways will mean thousands more will have somewhere to turn to.”

Kate Lee, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society said: “We don’t want anyone to face a dementia diagnosis alone or miss out on the support they desperately deserve. It’s great to see the worlds of cricket, football and rugby uniting to create real and lasting change for people affected by dementia. Sport should be unforgettable, and with our expert services embedded within these organisations, people affected by dementia can continue to enjoy the sports they love and have a direct route to support now and in the future.”

As well as transforming the way the industry supports people affected by dementia, Alzheimer’s Society’s Sport United Against Dementia campaign will raise crucial funds for support services and will help make grounds dementia friendly, so fans with the condition can continue to enjoy watching sport in their local communities.

Alzheimer’s Society will also support research to further understand the link between sport and dementia and has directly funded its own research with former footballers and rugby players, as part of the PREVENT study.

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