Emergency services unite against dementia for Dementia Awareness Week

This Dementia Awareness Week, chiefs representing emergency services across the UK marked the start of a sector-wide commitment to unite against dementia.

Emergency service employees gathered- text saying 'police fire rescue and ambulance services'

On Thursday 18 May the National Fire Chiefs’ Council (NFCC), The National Police Chiefs Council (NPCC) and the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) met with leading dementia charity Alzheimer’s Society to sign a strategic commitment to work towards being dementia friendly organisations by:

  • Internally developing their people, places and processes
  • Externally ensuring a dementia friendly service is delivered to the community who come into contact with the emergency services

Following this commitment, all fire, police and ambulance chiefs across the UK will now be encouraged to come together and sign the commitment at a local level.

The project has been led by Assistant Chief Fire Officer Sean Bone-Knell, the Director of Operations at Kent Fire and Rescue and lead for public services on the Prime Ministers Challenge group. This group, formed in 2012, are striving to increase the number of dementia friends and dementia friendly communities across the United Kingdom. 

One ambulance crew member and two firefighters

The commitment from emergency services will help bring Fire, Police and Ambulance services together to help support people living with dementia and those caring for people living with dementia in a more cohesive way.

The commitment has been signed by the following leaders representing their professional organisations:

  • Chief Fire Officer Roy Wilsher – Chair of the National Fire Chief’s Council (NFCC)
  • Deputy Chief Constable Janette McCormick – National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) Lead for Disability
  • Chief Executive Will Hancock – Association of Ambulance Chief Executives (AACE) from  South Central Ambulance Service

Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer, with someone developing the condition every three minutes - but too many people affected struggling alone.

This Dementia Awareness Week, Alzheimer’s Society is asking people to come together to unite against dementia, forgetting their differences to help urgently find a cure, improve care, and offer help and understanding.

Fire services employee on a home visit to fit a fire alarm

The charity is a strong advocate of the role organisations have in building a more dementia friendly society, to avoid social isolation and enable people with dementia to live independently in their own communities as long as possible.

Rob Burley, Director of Campaigns and Partnerships at Alzheimer’s Society, said:

'Dementia is one of the greatest challenges we face in society today – it’s set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer, with someone developing the condition every three minutes.

'Yet at Alzheimer’s Society we hear day in, day out that people with dementia often feel – and are – misunderstood, marginalised and isolated. With the right support and understanding, they can continue to live fulfilling lives and make a contribution.

'All individuals, organisations and communities have a part to play in tackling the devastating impact of dementia, so we’re thrilled to have worked with the NFCC, NPCC and AACE to launch the Emergency Services Commitment. We must all unite now and take action to ensure all communities are open for people with dementia.'

Assistant Chief Fire Officer Sean Bone-Knell, the Director Operations at Kent Fire and Rescue, said:

'Emergency services can support people living with dementia to improve the safety of their homes and make their lives as comfortable as possible. This is also reassuring for people caring for family members or friends. Developing our staff to know more about dementia is vitally important to take every opportunity to assist in whatever situation we encounter.

'Emergency services are also large employers and developing our staff to understand and how to care for people living with dementia is very important. Our support can be as simple as advice and guidance through to adapting or adjusting polices to give flexibility to staff caring for people in need.

'Emergency services have a duty to collaborate and this joint commitment will demonstrate to the people we serve we are committed to developing our people, our places and our processes to stand united in the fight against dementia.'

Alzheimer’s Society is the leading dementia charity and, along with the NPCC, AACE, NFCC and Kent Fire and Rescue, is calling on everyone from across the emergency services sector to unite and take action.