A new campaign has been launched calling upon residents and businesses help make Merton a dementia friendly borough by 2020.
Dementia Friendly Merton is supported by Merton Council, Merton Clinical Commissioning Group and the Alzheimer’s Society. It is estimated that more than 2,000 people are likely to be living with dementia in Merton by the year 2020, so we are aiming to make the borough dementia friendly by this date.
The call to action was announced at the Merton Dementia Hub in Whitford Gardens, Mitcham, today attended by Alzheimer’s UK ambassador and television presenter Angela Rippon.
Dementia is caused by a number of diseases which affect the brain, including Alzheimer’s. Most, but not all, people with dementia are aged over 65 and symptoms include short-term memory loss, confusion, difficulty communicating and it can also affect a person’s mood.
In Merton, around two thirds of people with dementia live in the community and a third of them live alone. While many receive support from the NHS and social care teams, the role shops, services and the wider community play is vitally important in increasing the standard of living of people with dementia.
Businesses and voluntary and community organisations are therefore being urged to join the Merton Dementia Action Alliance. This group of organisations have each made a commitment to take three actions to support people living with dementia, for example asking their staff to attend a Dementia Friends awareness session.
Residents can also sign up to this free 45-minute training course, which promotes understanding of dementia and the small ways they can make a difference for people with dementia.
Merton Council’s Lead Member for Health and Adult Social Care, Councillor Tobin Byers said: “We want to raise awareness of what a day in the life of someone living with dementia is like. There are a lot of small things which individuals, businesses and organisations can do which will make a big difference to their quality of life. We want Merton to be a place where people with dementia feel understood, respected and supported by the whole community.”
Merton Clinical Commissioning Group’s Governing Body Lay Member for Patient & Public Engagement, Clare Gummett, said: “I welcome the campaign led by the local authority and Alzheimer’s society to make Merton a Dementia friendly borough by 2020 and hope that local people give their support to make Merton a better place for those living with dementia. We recognise that enabling and supporting people to live well with dementia reaches beyond health, social care and other statutory services and that the communities in which people live are at the heart of this.”
The Alzheimer’s Society’s Operations Manager for West London, Karen McCrudden, said: “With the success of the Dementia Hub, creation of a Dementia Action Alliance and accreditation as a Dementia Friendly Community, we are now implementing a truly integrated approach to supporting people with dementia in Merton.
“Our ambition at the Alzheimer’s Society is to provide the right support so that people can live well with dementia. With the help of partner organisations and groups, we are battling the isolation and loneliness people affected by dementia can often feel, making it that little bit easier for them. But there is still work to be done in order to reach all the people with dementia across the borough: a dementia friendly Merton is a step in the right direction.”
Angela Rippon CBE, Broadcaster and Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, said: “It’s fantastic to see the positive work continuing to take place in Merton to support people living with dementia. Seven years ago I lost my darling mother to the condition, so I know first-hand the devastating effects it can have.
“Many people with dementia are not able to take part in activities they enjoyed before they developed the condition. They want to engage with society, but need support. Initiatives like Dementia Friendly Communities are vital to empower people with dementia to maintain their independence and to have a better quality of life after diagnosis. One day I hope that every community will be dementia-friendly, and Merton is an excellent example of how to do this.”