The first “Silvia Doctors” ready to make a difference in dementia care

[PRESS INVITATION, 7 May 2015] Dementia is one of today's most common diseases. Providing professional care requires trained personnel. The first “Silvia Doctors” will be awarded their degrees as a result of a unique collaboration between Karolinska Institutet and Silviahemmet Foundation. These physicians have completed a two-year master's programme in dementia care while undergoing their clinical practice.

Journalists are welcome to attend the graduation ceremony where Her Majesty Queen Silvia of Sweden will award diplomas and Silviahemmet Foundation certificates at the Drottningholm Court Theatre, located on the grounds of Drottningholm Palace, on Monday, 18 May at 18:30.

In dementia, an illness or damage to neurons and neuronal connections results in a person gradually losing vital functions. Alzheimer's disease is the most common and best known of dementia conditions, but this category of diagnoses also includes vascular dementia, Lewy body dementia and frontotemporal dementia. As the various dementia conditions affect different parts of the brain, diseases in their early stages can manifest themselves in different ways. There is currently no curative treatment, but there are ways to alleviate the symptoms. Professional care with competent treatment of different symptoms can better meet patients' specific needs and improve quality of life.

The training for the Silvia Doctors is conducted in cooperation between Silviahemmet Foundation and Karolinska Institutet. It is unusual in several ways, including its structure. The two-year part-time training is conducted as distance learning and is clinical. This means that the physician continues to work during training, and can immediately apply the new knowledge acquired through the training in his or her work with patients. Another characteristic of this programme is that it is directed not only to all practicing physicians who encounter dementia largely in primary care contexts, but also to geriatricians, psychiatrists, neurologists, internists and emergency care physicians.

“There is a great need to provide physicians with advanced knowledge of dementia, which is a growing public health problem. We hope that the Silvia Doctors with their training will contribute to the dissemination of knowledge. After completing the training, they have not only better knowledge of how to treat these patients, but can also plan and organize dementia care at the local level, for example by further developing existing guidelines and treatment. We hope that Silvia Doctors will contribute to better care for this vulnerable and growing group,” says Professor Anders Hamsten, vice-chancellor of Karolinska Institutet.

Since 1996, the Silviahemmet Foundation has provided advanced training for registered and practical nurses in dementia care. Now, the first Silvia Doctors will graduate after having completed a Master's degree in dementia care for physicians.

“Dementia is incredibly complex. It requires well-functioning and knowledgeable teamwork from earliest to latest phases of the disease. Through cooperation with Sophiahemmet University, we have trained a total of 550 “Silvia Sisters”, who are practical nurses with specialist knowledge of dementia, and 170 Silvia Registered Nurses. Now we finally also have physicians with the necessary skills. The number of people with dementia is expected to increase rapidly in the future, so we need a group of physicians who are equipped to take care of these patients”, says Wilhelmina Hoffman, geriatrician and director of the Silviahemmet Foundation.

It is our pleasure to welcome you to the graduation ceremony for the first class of Silvia Doctors - physicians with a master's degree in dementia care. The ceremony will be attended by Her Majesty the Queen of Sweden, Sweden’s minister for the elderly Åsa Regnér, Director of Silviahemmet Foundation Wilhelmina Hoffman, Vice-Chancellor of Karolinska Institutet Anders Hamsten, and Professor of Geriatrics Lars-Olof Wahlund, Department of Neurobiology, Care Sciences and Society. Speeches will be held in English.

Time: Monday, 18 May 18 2015 at 18:5. The ceremony will take place between 18:30 and 20:00, but the members of the press are asked to be there no later than 18:15.
Location: Drottningholm Palace Theatre, inside the Drottningholm Palace grounds.

Because of space constraints, only photographers from certain photo agencies will be allowed to attend. Karolinska Institutet, however, will have its own press photographer on site and will be able to offer free press photos a short time after the ceremony.

For registration and any questions, please contact:
Sabina Bossi, press officer
Tel: +46 8 524 860 66 or +46 70 614 60 66

Karolinska Institutet is one of the world's leading medical universities. Its vision is to significantly contribute to the improvement of human health. Karolinska Institutet accounts for over 40 per cent of the medical academic research conducted in Sweden and offers the country´s broadest range of education in medicine and health sciences. The Nobel Assembly at Karolinska Institutet selects the Nobel laureates in Physiology or Medicine.