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11.04.14

LGA chief calls for greater awareness on dementia

Sir Merrick Cockell, chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA), has called on 400 council leaders across England and Wales to become a Dementia Friend – in an attempt to drive public knowledge and awareness of the illness. 

Currently, more than 800,000 people across the UK are affected by dementia and this is expected to rise to around one million by 2021. 

However, despite figures revealing that dementia is one of the main causes of disability in later life, only 45% of people have been properly diagnosed, according to official figures from the Department of Health. 

Many councils are already working with their communities to develop new ways to enable people with dementia to learn new skills and hobbies, take part in everyday activities and retain their independence for as long as they are able.  

For example, Luton Borough Council has made a Virtual Dementia Tour experience available to people in the local area. The innovative tour, delivered by Essex-based provider ‘Training 2 Care', gives people with a healthy brain an experience of what ‘mid-stage' dementia might be like.  

York City Council, through its Dementia Action Alliance, has attempted to become a dementia friendly community by providing education to a vast and varied list of businesses and organisations;  and Kent County Council has been developing a learning resource pack called ‘Dementia Diaries' for schools which is available in libraries. There are also projects that take place with local students where pupils and residents at a local care home are involved in a dance project together. 

The LGA stated that simple changes to existing services, and training for those who come into day-to-day contact with people with dementia such as staff working in libraries or in leisure centres, could help people with dementia feel more confident in using council services. 

This is why Sir Merrick is now calling on council colleagues from England and Wales, alongside their communities, to join him by making their own personal commitment to this issue; designating a person within the council to become a Dementia Friends champion, to then cascade learning to other staff in the council; and identifying a space at council premises to hold training sessions for staff and the community to become dementia friends. 

Sir Merrick said: “Traditionally, the focus for dementia care has been NHS treatments and services delivered by local councils. We need to shift this to a focus on how we can enable people who have been diagnosed with dementia to live as full a life as possible and encourage communities to work together to help people to stay healthier for longer. 

“I have seen first-hand the difference the work of councils, community groups and volunteers has made to the lives of people living with dementia. This campaign really drives home the importance of how, when working together we really can make the biggest difference. 

“Councils have a core role to play in transforming the quality of life for people with dementia. Not only in providing leadership and support for local community groups to develop innovative services, but in supporting their staff in becoming dementia aware and to sign up to their local dementia alliances to become involved in their dementia friendly communities.” 

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email opinion@publicsectorexecutive.com

Comments

Dementia 4 Schools   22/04/2014 at 14:17

Sir Merrick is correct that greater awareness is needed. And there are so many more ways of raising dementia among young people beyond the excellent 'Dementia Diaries' from Kent and 'Tuned into Dementia' from York. Check out also the work in Liverpool and Plymouth - more details at www.dementia4schools.org.uk

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