How taking small steps can make a big difference

Bentley GP Dr David Crichton
Bentley GP Dr David Crichton

Residents and businesses in Doncaster are being encouraged to sign up to a scheme to help 4,000 people in the borough battling dementia.

A campaign to make the borough more ‘dementia-friendly’ is under way after it was revealed the estimated cost of caring for people with the condition in Doncaster is over £43 million per year.

And with the number of cases expected to increase over the coming years, health bosses say it is vital to create a community which supports patients and their carers. To help achieve the aim, people are being urged to sign up as ‘dementia friends’.

Dr David Crichton, chairman of the NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group, said: “In simple terms, it’s a commitment from organisations across all walks of local life to try and make times easier for those who have dementia - from shopkeepers giving a helping hand, to someone struggling to count out the coins they need to pay for goods, to bus drivers ensuring a passenger gets off at their correct stop, and much more.”

A dementia friend learns more about the reality of living with the disease, then turns their understanding into action. Anyone can sign up to the programme, including businesses.

Tesco Express on High Street, Bentley, is one of the firms already signed up. Boss Chris Shepherd and his staff were praised by Dr Crichton earlier this year for their awareness of the signs and symptoms of dementia. Already 6,000 people in Doncaster have become dementia friends, 90 are ‘dementia friends champions’ and there are 70 members of the Dementia Action Alliance, a group led by several different organisations.

However, more volunteers are needed.

A spokesman for Doncaster Dementia Action Alliance: “We want Doncaster to become a dementia-friendly community in which people living with dementia and their carers feel confident knowing they can access the support they need and participate in activities which are meaningful to them.

“We aim to reduce the stigma and raise understanding of dementia through activities, training and education to improve the services delivered locally so that people living with dementia are able to continue doing the things they enjoy within their own community for longer.”

Dr Rupert Suckling, the town’s Director of Public Health, said the drive was ‘very important’, and added that all council staff were offered training on how to be a dementia friend.

BENEFITS OF THE SCHEME

People come into daily contact with people with dementia - it could be the person serving in a shop, a paramedic, or an office colleague.

As part of its Dementia Friends scheme backed by Doncaster’s Dr David Crichton, the Alzheimer’s Society works with organisations to equip staff with the skills to effectively engage with people with dementia.

It would like to hear from any organisation whose staff would benefit from a better understanding of dementia. Investing in improving the perception of the condition will enable staff to respond appropriately to the needs of sufferers. Visit Dementia Friends or call 01904 633581.