Norfolk ‘leading the way’ to raise dementia care and awareness

Charlie Webster speaking at the Dementia Alliance awareness event in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith Charlie Webster speaking at the Dementia Alliance awareness event in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Friday, May 16, 2014
2:12 PM

Norfolk is leading the way in helping to raise awareness and improve dementia care in the county, a health minister said today.

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Charlie Webster speaking at the Dementia Alliance awareness event in Norwich. Photo: Bill SmithCharlie Webster speaking at the Dementia Alliance awareness event in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

Dozens of dignitaries gathered for the launch of a bid to make Norfolk the first dementia friendly county in the country and to join the growing Dementia Friends movement.

Around 70 people from local charities, businesses, councils and the emergency services took part in an hour-long Dementia Friends session this morning at Norwich City Football Club where they were urged to spread the word to increase awareness of Alzheimer’s Disease and other forms of dementia and help the thousands of people living with the condition across Norfolk.

The Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, with the help of charities such as the Alzheimer’s Society, Age UK Norfolk and Age UK Norwich, is setting up a network of 16 dementia hubs in Norfolk to ensure that everyone is within 15 miles of a support group or dementia cafe.

Norman Lamb, health minister and North Norfolk MP, said he was “proud” that the county was pioneering initiatives to meet the challenges of dementia.

Charlie Webster speaking at the Dementia Alliance awareness event in Norwich. Photo: Bill SmithCharlie Webster speaking at the Dementia Alliance awareness event in Norwich. Photo: Bill Smith

“Our communities are unnecessarily challenging for people with dementia and it is so easy to change them and make communities better. If all public, private and third sector organisations work collaboratively and break down barriers, we have the chance to lead the way in Norfolk in making our whole rural community dementia friendly. The vision for [dementia] hubs so that we are never too far away from advice and support is fantastic,” he said.

Willie Cruickshank, of the dementia alliance, added there were a lot of exciting developments in dementia and it was important for people to think differently about dementia and what it must be like for someone with the condition.

Joyce Hopwood, chairman of Norwich Older Peoples Forum, added: “Let’s make Norfolk a beacon of kindness, understanding and helpfulness to those amongst us with dementia and what should be their highly valued carers. Let’s make this a facet of Norfolk which we can be rightly proud of.”

The Dementia Friends session was run by Sky Sports presenter Charlie Webster, who became a Dementia Champion, following her grandmother’s battle with dementia.

Presenter’s dementia pledge

Sky Sports presenter Charlie Webster became a Dementia Champion with the Alzheimer’s Society following the death of her grandmother last year, who had dementia.

The presenter, who was born and raised in Yorkshire, ran the Dementia Friends session in Norwich for the charity, which is looking to get one million people to sign up by 2015.

She said: “Two years ago I did not know anything about dementia. It really made me wake up and if I did not know anything until my nan was diagnosed, it means that so many people do not know.”

“Dementia Friends is about breaking down the stigma and we want to get away from the negative connotations and this is a way of making it better for people. Collectively we can make a huge difference.”

She added that Dementia Friends could help further by spreading the word through social networks and at work, visiting people with dementia, and being more patient with people with dementia when out and about.

For further information, visit www.dementiafriends.org.uk

See an eight page supplement in Monday’s EDP on the dementia challenge facing the region, how to spot the signs, tips on preventing dementia, and what can be done to help patients and carers.

Has your family been affected by dementia? Email adam.gretton@archant.co.uk

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