Number of English communities working to become dementia friendly triples expectations

Published 28 July 2014

Alzheimer's Society today (Monday 28 July 2014) announces that over 60 towns and cities in England have committed to become dementia friendly.

Commitment from 63 communities has exceeded the ambition set in the Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia to engage 20 communities in the Dementia Friendly Communities programme by 2015 by more than three times. This news comes as the UK's National Standards Body, BSI (British Standards Institution) launches a new project with the charity to develop a standard defining exactly how communities work towards becoming dementia friendly, with the aim of inspiring more areas to get involved.

BSI is working with the leading charity for people with dementia, the Department of Health, community representatives and key stakeholders across government, industry and healthcare to develop the code of practice. It will act as a benchmark for all communities wanting to embark upon a journey to work towards being dementia friendly.

A dementia-friendly community is a city, town or village where people with dementia are understood, respected, supported, and confident they can contribute to community life. An economic analysis commissioned by the charity in September 2013 showed that Dementia Friendly Communities could save £11,000 per person per year by helping people with dementia to remain independent, stay out of care for longer and have a better quality of life.

Alzheimer's Society's recent Dementia Friendly Awards saw businesses, local projects and towns rewarded for adapting the way they work to ensure people with dementia are welcomed, respected and supported in their communities. Projects like the Dementia Friendly Gurudwaras in Bradford, educating the Sikh community about dementia, and Sporting Memories Network, a nationwide project using reminiscence about sporting moments to engage people with dementia, were recognised for their outstanding achievements in the field.

Liverpool is working towards becoming dementia friendly through its 'Year of Action on Dementia' project and continuing work led by the local Dementia Action Alliance. The Museum of Liverpool has created 'House of Memories' reminiscence training and Merseyside Fire and Liverpool John Moores University and Merseycare NHS Trust are working with local people with dementia to develop an 'app' to help them to live well with dementia

These are just some of the organisations implementing changes to better support people with dementia.

Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Councillor Erica Kemp said:

'I am asking people in Liverpool to become a Dementia Friend. I'd love to have a Dementia Friend in every road and street in our city. We encourage other cities UK-wide to get involved in becoming dementia friendly, making sure their city is accessible to people with the condition.'

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer's Society said:

'The dedication we have seen from towns working to become dementia friendly is truly inspiring. A diverse range of projects across the country are working to help people with dementia remain independent and active in their local communities. Alzheimer's Society is keen to motivate more towns and businesses to start on this journey of change. By benchmarking what it really means to become dementia friendly, we can help to empower towns and businesses to support people with dementia and ensure they are welcomed, respected and living well in their communities.'

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

'Living well with dementia is made easier by the consideration, respect and support of dementia-friendly communities – which is why I'm delighted so many are getting involved and showing their support.

'More research, improving the diagnosis rate and better care and support is vital, and our funding for dementia research will reach more than £66m by 2015. Just as important are the changes we need to make as a society to tackle stigma and increase understanding.'
Anne Hayes Head of Market Development for Governance, Resilience and Healthcare at BSI said:

'This new Code of Practice for dementia-friendly communities will represent a ground-breaking move towards raising understanding of this condition across society. It not only complements Alzheimer's Society's recognition process and Dementia Friends initiatives, but also provides a continuously improving process pathway for lasting change which embeds dementia friendliness into society. PAS 1365 will prevent a community from claiming to be dementia friendly without demonstrably displaying the appropriate behaviours and characteristics across the services that we all engage with every day. It will help to change public perceptions, provide new support and an improved quality of life for the increasing number of UK citizens who are living with the condition.'

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