How we can make Norfolk the most dementia friendly place in the world

Norfolk relies on community initiatives such as the Wayland Partnership Dementia Café in Watton, cel

Norfolk relies on community initiatives such as the Wayland Partnership Dementia Café in Watton, celebrating its 1st birthday, to provide many of the services for those living with dementia and their carers. Picture: Matthew Usher. - Credit: Archant

Stand up, step forward and get involved in making our county the best place for those living with dementia – we need you, says JO MALONE.

Dementia Friends badge Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Dementia Friends badge Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

Norfolk could soon be the most dementia friendly county in the world, despite the money to help drying up, says a team determined to improve life for those affected by dementia.

From GPs surgeries to schools, shops to banks and buses, the aim is to ensure people with dementia are always met with understanding and assistance.

Do you help that lady with her change at the till, hand that gentleman his shopping bag when he starts leaving without it, assist a worried looking woman across the road or let someone and their unsettled companion step ahead of you in a queue? If so, you are capable of helping Norfolk on its way to becoming the best place in the world to live and work for those living with dementia or caring for someone with dementia.

And more people like you are needed to help join the dots until there are helping hands all over Norfolk.

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Willie Cruickshank, director of the Norfolk and Suffolk Dementia Alliance, says that as the amount of individuals becoming Dementia Friends increases and the number of dementia friendly communities in Norfolk rises, more and more people are living in dementia friendly areas.

'The Prime Minister has challenged the people of England to launch 100 more dementia friendly communities by 2020, so that ultimately at least half the people living with dementia in England can say that they live in a dementia friendly community,' says Willie.

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He says David Cameron believes England could be the best place for people with dementia and their carers to live in the world.

'Given the great work we have done we want Norfolk to be best place in England, and therefore the best in the world,' he says.

Norfolk already has many dementia friendly businesses and organisations, 10 per cent of England's dementia friendly communities – with more planned - and thousands of Dementia Friends.

Due to a lack of money, with funds to set up Dementia Friendly Communities from Norfolk County Council and the Alzheimer's Society now largely exhausted, says Willie, the emphasis is on encouraging communities to become self sufficient in their dementia awareness while appealing for cash to help too.

'We have other communities who want to become dementia friendly communities but we don't have the resources to help them. We need to find the funding,' he says, explaining that it costs approximately £4,500 on training, posters and so on to get a dementia friendly community ready to launch and adding that much of the support is currently provided by volunteers and charities.

Undaunted, he points out the value of being dementia aware to towns and businesses.

'The population with the most disposable income are the over-65s,' he says, adding that attractions, venues and areas can take steps to understand the psychology and emotional barriers that may make those living with dementia feel they cannot take part in activities they used to love.

'We need to understand them and remove those barriers,' he says.

The Alzheimer's Society is working towards a dementia friendly generation too, encouraging lessons and assemblies in schools to help young people understand dementia, to reduce stigma, change attitudes and also educate them about their own lifestyles and risk factors for dementia.

'So we'll have a whole generation growing up that appreciates what it is like to live with dementia and what they can do,' says Willie

The aim is for people living with dementia to stay in the community for as long as possible, rather than going into specialist care or hospital.

'There is a challenge facing us and the challenge is getting bigger,' says Willie, encouraging everyone to get involved.

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