When I took the training to become a dementia friend a couple of years ago it struck me that many of the things that go to making a ‘dementia friend’ are also things that make you someone a more socially aware and kind member of the community for everyone regardless of whether they have dementia. There is also a movement that Reading is part of to make our towns and cities dementia friendly – and similarly the steps that are needed to become a dementia friendly town as also the things that make our town better for everyone. I am looking forward to an update on the work that has been going on coming to our Health and Wellbeing board meeting next week, but I’m particularly excited about the pilot in Southcote to become a dementia friendly community, and I hope that we’ll be able to consider where else in our town we can extend this.
However we all can play our part, whether it is by taking dementia friend training, considering how our employer can take into account customers who have a form of dementia, educating ourselves about the signs of dementia or looking out for a friend or neighbour who is experiencing symptoms.
Council press release below:
GOOD progress has been made this year towards making Reading a dementia friendly town.
Dementia is a key priority in Reading’s Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy, with the aim to make Reading a place where people can live well with dementia and support families/carers of people living with dementia.
Reading’s Health and Wellbeing board has set out a commitment to improve the health and care for people living with dementia, their carer’s and family. Progress to date will be reviewed at the next Health and Wellbeing Board meeting on Friday 19th January.
Dementia is condition that touches many people’s lives and despite the common myth – it doesn’t just affect older people, with over 40,000 people under 65 in the UK living with dementia.
In Reading it is estimated there are about 1,500 people aged 65 or over living with dementia and this number is expected to increase by 50 per cent over the next 15 years.
Reading’s Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) is a local group that brings a number of local partners together with the aim of improving the lives of people with dementia. Members of the DAA are playing a pivotal role in Reading’s Health and Wellbeing Action Plan.
Progress made to date includes:
· The DAA arranged Reading’s annual Dementia Awareness event in Broad Street as part of national Dementia Awareness Week in May 2017 and have supported a number of other local community events such as Older People’s Day and Southcote Community Fayre;
· Over 20 presentations have been delivered to local business and services by DDA partners, raising awareness of how local businesses and services can be dementia friendly;
· Reading’s Alliance for Cohesion and Racial Equality (ACRE) hosted a dementia conference to raise awareness among ethnic minority groups;
· The local Clinical Commissioning Group has commissioned the Alzheimer’s Society to provide four Dementia Care Advisors, who work across Berkshire West, with one advisor dedicated to providing support to people with early onset dementia;
· Work on training of all GPs to become dementia friendly practices is progressing. Dementia Awareness presentations have been delivered to local Patient Participation Groups at Western Elms and Balmore Park surgeries and these were well received;
· Several Memory Clinics are installing joint dementia research kiosks which enable people with dementia and/or their carers to register. Berkshire Healthcare Foundation Trust Research Team also provide information about this research and how to join;
· There has been an increase in the number of dementia friends across Reading, including undertaking a pilot for dementia friendly community status in Southcote;
· Members of the Berkshire West Dementia Steering Group and Reading’s Dementia Action Alliance members are working closely on ensuring there is signposting for people to high quality, relevant and appropriate information.
Cllr Graeme Hoskin, Reading’s Lead Member for Health, said: “Dementia is a condition that is affecting more and more of us. Dementia progressively has an impact on individual living with dementia, families and carers, but when communities become dementia-aware and dementia-friendly, it can have a positive effect on promoting people’s ability to live independently for as long as possible. Families and carers also benefit from this approach as it can help support them to continue to care for someone living with dementia.
“Dementia is also a major health and social care challenge because of the anticipated growth in the number of people who are living for longer and affected by the condition. As well as the personal cost, dementia costs the UK economy an estimated £26 billion per year. We work closely with our partners in order to raise more awareness around dementia and practical ways which people can help support this priority.”
Cllr Rachel Eden, Lead Member for Adult Social Care, said: “I’m glad to see the progress made in Reading to date. We need build on the hard work and support local groups such as Reading’s Dementia Action Alliance to raise awareness amongst as many individuals, businesses and services in Reading as possible and encourage more to become dementia friendly. Individuals can sign up online to become a dementia friend and/or champions and local businesses are also encouraged to pledge their support.”
Reading’s Dementia Action Alliance (DAA)
Reading’s Dementia Action Alliance (DAA), founded in 2013, brings partners together with the aim of improving the lives of people with dementia. The DAA work to improve awareness and understanding of dementia so people have the information they need to reduce the risk of developing dementia as well as to live well with dementia. The organisation also aims to ensure people with dementia have equal access to the health and wellbeing support which is available to everyone.
DDA Members include: A2Dominion, Ableworld, Age UK Berkshire, Age UK Reading, Alzheimer’s Society, Blandy & Blandy LLP, Clifton Ingram LLP Solicitors, Enabled Healthcare, Gateley Plc, Health Education Thames Valley, Home Instead Senior Care, Reading, Progress Theatre, Q1Care Ltd, ReadiBus, Reading Borough Council, Reading Buses, Reading Libraries, Reading Voluntary Action, Royal Berkshire Fire and Rescue Service (RBFRS), South Central Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust, St. Lukes Care Home and The Oracle Shopping Centre.
The National Dementia Helpline is 0300 222 11 22 for information, support or advice.
People interested in becoming a Dementia Friend can find out more at www.dementiafriends.org.uk
About The Care Home Support Team
The Care Home Support Team (part of BHFT) is an initiative which started in 2015 as part of The Dementia Strategy. The team is comprised of general nurses, mental health nurses, a Speech and Language therapist, Physiotherapist and Occupational therapist. It covers Newbury, Reading and Wokingham. Part of the work they do is training Care home staff to become Dementia Champions – this involves working with staff that have a keen interest in Dementia care, developing their knowledge and skill to enable them to become the Homes ‘expert’. The Dementia Champion can act as a role model for new staff, support environmental changes in the home, lead on Dementia focused projects and improve well-being for residents.
Some of the things dementia champions have achieved are;
– Promoting dementia friendly environments with clearer signage and use of colours to differentiate objects
– personalising walking frames
– making more use of the ‘All about me’ documentation
– filtering down training on person centered approaches
– working with families to improve relationships