Helping people with dementia get by with a little help from their friends: Warwickshire’s 10,000 Dementia Friend challenge

Warwickshire County Council and partners are aiming to help 10,000 Warwickshire Residents to become Dementia Friends by June 2015.

dementia friends logoIn Warwickshire, according to latest estimates, there are 7,615 people living with dementia and this is likely to rise to over 9000 people with dementia in the County by 2021. The current estimate for diagnosis rates in Warwickshire is 49% and this means that most people will be affected in some way by dementia during their lifetimes.

As part of the Coventry and Warwickshire Living Well with Dementia Partnership’s commitment to making Coventry and Warwickshire dementia friendly, the Council has set the ambitious target of encourage 8000 people to pledge their support to people with dementia, which will take the number of ‘dementia friends’ across the County to 10 000.

Dementia Friends is an initiative led by the Alzheimer’s Society based on the principle that people with dementia can live well with a little help from other people. Becoming a dementia friend is about understanding a bit more about dementia and the small things that can help people with the condition. You don’t need to already know someone with dementia to become a dementia friend.

dementia friends screenshotDementia Friends learn a little bit about what it’s like to live with dementia and turn that understanding into action. This action could be helping someone find the right bus or being patient in a till queue if someone with dementia is taking longer to pay. Every action counts and anybody can become a Dementia Friend, either by attending an hour-long session in their local area or by watching the 5-minute online video on the dementia friends website and then entering their details to receive a free information pack:

In order to help Warwickshire reach its target of 10 000 dementia friends, the Council will be providing opportunity for local sessions to happen in council premises around the County. Dates of these face-to-face sessions will be announced in due course, but you can also check the Dementia Friends website for sessions in your area.

Employers are encouraged to share this message with their employees and the Council can help any large employers who are looking to have their workforce signed up as dementia friends in a single session. Employers are encouraged to email for further information:

Dr John Linnane, Director of Public Health Warwickshire who has recently become a dementia friend at a face-to-face session, said: “I can think of no better resolution for the New Year than becoming a dementia friend and helping Warwickshire become a county that is recognised for helping its residents with dementia to live as well with their illness as they can.

“I would urge anyone to try and attend one of the face-to-face sessions, which only take an hour and where they will be given a broad understanding of the issues associated with dementia and the small things that they can do to make a big difference to people living with the condition. Don’t worry though, if you don’t have the time to attend a face-to-face session, you can still get involved and help us towards our target by watching the video online on the dementia friends’ website and leaving your details on the site.”

Cllr Jose Compton, Warwickshire County Council portfolio holder for Adult Social Care and Health, said: “Although the creation of 9000 new dementia friends across Warwickshire in six months is a tall order, it is this type of ambition that will lead to the societal improvements that people living with dementia and their carers have told us they would like to see to help them live better with their diagnosis.”

Cllr Maggie O’Rourke, Chair of the Adult Social Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee, said: “It can be quite easy to assume, that You can only have a limited impact on the lives of people with dementia, however this could not be further from the truth. There are small things that we can all do that will make life easier for people living with dementia. By becoming a dementia friend and understanding how the condition effects people, they can realise what a huge difference that they can make. 10, 000 dementia friends is highly ambitious, but an ambition worth realising.”

There is no time like the present, why not sign up to become a dementia friend today and take us a step closer to our target of a dementia friendlier Warwickshire:

You can find out more about living well with dementia on the Coventry and Warwickshire Living well with dementia Portal: