I am delighted to be working with the founding members of Dementia Friendly Petersfield to support the launch of a new initiative to increase the awareness and understanding of dementia across the town, so those affected feel more supported by the businesses and services they rely on.
The founding members include key local organisations such as East Hampshire District Council, Petersfield Town Council, Waitrose, Hampshire Constabulary, the Petersfield Post, Local Treasures, the Winton House Centre, The Princess Royal Trust for Carers, Dementia Friendly Hampshire and Petersfield Area Churches Togethers (PACT), with many other businesses across the town now joining the initiative.
Each member has made a individual 'pledge' of support, helping their staff to become Dementia Friends and to learn more about the difficulities facing those living with dementia and the small ways in which we can make a difference for those affected.
More information on Dementia Friendly Petersfield can be found on their website, by clicking WEBSITE, including details of members as well as the services available across the town to support those affected by dementia, including familiies, carers and friends.
Before my late mother was diagnosed with a form of dementia (fronto-temporal) I thought I knew a lot about the condition. When the diagnosis came I realised how far from the truth that was. More than 26,000, people in Hampshire, including unitary authorities, have a form of dementia and across the UK a new person develops it every three minutes. Despite its growing prevalence, public understanding of the condition remains poor, which is why the Alzheimer’s Society are running a programme to boost awareness, and also why I decided to get involved.
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme has been set up to tackle the stigma of dementia that can often result in people with the condition experiencing loneliness and social exclusion. The Society aims to create more communities and businesses that are dementia friendly so that people affected feel understood and included. To achieve this aim volunteer Dementia Friends Champions run Information Sessions to create Dementia Friends; having comfortably met their target to create one million, they have set themselves a new, ambitious aim to quadruple this number by 2020.
Along with many MP’s, a few years ago I became a Dementia Friend, which provided me with an invaluable understanding of what it is like to live with dementia and how I can change my own behaviours to support people with the condition. Like the Alzheimer’s Society, I want to make sure more people are given the opportunity to understand the disease so that we can not only reach and surpass the Society’s 2020 aim, but also create the most dementia friendly country in Europe.
One way I can support this aim has been to become a Dementia Friends Champion myself. Having now completed the course I am running Information Sessions across East Hampshire (the next one is in Petersfield on 11th December, between 6 and 7pm, at the Petersfield Community Centre). I would wholeheartedly encourage you to attend and in the meantime I would like to take the opportunity to share some of the key messages I learnt from my training day:
- Dementia is not a natural part of ageing
- Dementia is caused by diseases of the brain
- Dementia is not just about losing your memory
- It is possible to live well with dementia
- There is more to the person than the dementia
As well as these five key messages, one of my biggest takeaways from the Champions training was that anyone, of any age, can be a Dementia Friend - why don’t you become one? Take a look at the Dementia Friends website and see for yourself HERE
Home page photo courtesy of Malcolm Wells