On Monday 16 July at Collier’s Wood Library, Merton was officially presented their Dementia Friendly Community status by Alzheimer’s Society. 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.
Merton’s Dementia Action Alliance has a broad range of members from statutory agencies (such as the Metropolitan Police and London Fire Brigade), voluntary sector and community groups, Council staff teams, shops and banks to residential care home providers and GPs.
Examples of work carried out during the last year includes dementia inclusive swimming sessions, a participatory dance event with people with early on-set dementia and their families and carers, and young actors working with people with dementia to hear their stories and developing a play performed at the New Wimbledon Theatre. There have also been, dementia awareness training for staff at Wimbledon Centre Court shopping centre, work done to make information on council tax discounts for people with dementia and their carers easier to access and raising awareness with shoppers at Wimbledon Centre Court during Dementia Awareness Week.
The Alzheimer’s Society’s report, ‘Building Dementia Friendly Communities: A priority for everyone’, revealed less than half of people living with dementia feel a part of the community (47%) and nearly three quarters (73%) of UK adults surveyed in a YouGov poll do not think society is geared up to deal with dementia. Many people with dementia reported feeling trapped in their own homes and let down by their communities, with one in three only getting out once a week and one in 10 only manage this once a month.
For the first time, an economic analysis commissioned by the charity also shows 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.
There are 1853 living with dementia in Merton and creating a dementia-friendly community will help reduce stigma and make people feel confident, understood and supported to be a valuable part of society.
Merton’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health, Councillor Tobin Byers, said: “We are honoured that Merton has achieved this status, in recognition of all the work that has been undertaken by the Council and its partners on the Dementia Action Alliance. The award is testament to our shared commitment to be part of making London a ‘dementia-friendly capital’. With the number of people living with dementia set to increase the work being done by the Merton DAA and across the borough is crucial to supporting people living with dementia. We want more people to live independently for as long as possible in a community that supports them and their families and carers. ”
Linda O’Sullivan, Head of London and South Region at Alzheimer’s Society, who presented Merton with the status, said: ‘It is great to hear of the positive work happening in Merton. They are setting a high standard that I hope many more will follow across London and the UK. Dementia is the biggest health and social care crisis facing society today – someone develops the condition every three minutes and too many are facing it alone.
‘Many people with dementia tell us they feel isolated and let down by their communities. So it’s fantastic to see Merton working hard to address this issue and work towards becoming dementia-friendly.’
Karen McCrudden, Operations Manager Local Services – London West “The Merton Dementia Hub is delighted with the progress that Merton has made to become dementia-friendly. This means that our service users will be living within a community that is supportive, understanding and better equipped to assist them when needed.’
For more information on Dementia Friendly Communities and the official recognition process log on to www.alzheimers.org.uk/dementiafriendlycommunities or to find out more on how to become a Dementia Friend and Friends Champion log on to www.dementiafriends.org.uk
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