Lymington: A Dementia Friendly Town from 20 September 2014

Lymington: A Dementia Friendly Town

FROM 20 SEPTEMBER 2014, LYMINGTON IS OFFICIALLY A ‘DEMENTIA FRIENDLY’ TOWN.

Everybody in Lymington must be aware by now of the enormous national and local drive towards a better understanding of dementia. These notes are a combination taken from various recent presentations and articles, published here in order to provide some background to what’s going on in Lymington to make our town an increasingly more “dementia friendly” place in which to live work and play.

What is dementia?

Dementia is a disease of the brain, which causes impaired cognitive abilities. Dementia is the collective name for a family of over 100 diseases of which Alzheimer’s disease is the most common. Other more common ones are vascular dementia, dementia with lewey bodies, fronto-temporal dementia.

If we consider someone who might have a disease that wastes their muscles - we can see and understand cause and effect; dementia is very different in that we can’t see the cause; however the effect can be dramatic, peculiar, scary.

The statistics are dramatic: Today we believe dementia affects over 830,000 people in the UK. Around 23 million of the UK population has a close friend or family member with dementia. As well as the huge personal cost, dementia costs the UK economy £23 billion a year, more than cancer and heart disease combined. It is forecasted there will be 1 million people with dementia in the UK by 2025. If we consider our local demographics we have a much higher proportion of elderly people than the national average so the statistics will likely be enhanced in this area.

The Lymington Dementia Action Group (LDAG)

Lymington Dementia Action Group logo

The Lymington Dementia Action Group (LDAG) is a group of volunteers based in and near Lymington. Against a background of increasing numbers of people with dementia and a growing army of relatives who have turned into carers, our remit is to help Lymington and the surrounding area become a “dementia friendly community”.

The thinking is that if we all understand better what dementia is, we can make small changes in our attitudes and behaviour, which in turn will make dementia less frightening and more “normal” for those affected. Although there is as yet no cure for dementia, with the right support it is possible to live well with dementia. People with dementia can live better, for longer – and we can all play our part in helping to make that happen.

We can all help in different ways depending on our roles in the community - from medical people, to those running shops and cafes, to school children in the town and visiting grandparents – all of us are likely to meet people with dementia in our daily lives.

LDAG comprises a number of people from the caring professions, but also others from backgrounds such as legal, retail, and communication. We also work alongside the Alzheimer’s Society and help to publicise that Charity’s many and varied efforts and activities in the fight to beat dementia for the future, and make it more tolerable for those already affected by it.

Our main areas of activity are:

  • Providing free one hour Dementia Friends information sessions in Lymington to help everybody - from school children to businesspeople - to understand better what it’s like to have dementia. It’s a short step from there to making those small changes in our attitude and behaviour - small changes, which can nevertheless have a profound effect. These information sessions are now held fortnightly on Wednesdays at Linden HBadge.JPG - 24.35 KBouse in New Street Lymington at 6.30 pm. Everyone is encouraged to attend a session and then to spread the word to family and friends.
  • For forthcoming dates and venues for Dementia Friends information sessions in Lymington please see our calendar
  • Providing a directory of information to support all those affected by dementia, which will be available both online on our website, and in leaflets and notices posted in key locations locally. We want to try and differentiate between the many services provided by public and private organisations, and help people find the information most useful for their particular needs be it company and companionship, meaningful activities, carer support groups , etc.
  • Encouraging more businesses to become more dementia friendly, which enables people with dementia and their carers to use local shops and services knowing that they will be met with understanding and given support if needed. All participating businesses are given a window sticker to display, so that people wtih dementia and their carers can readily identify where they will be welcomed. In practice businesses commit to make their staff "dementia aware" by attending Dementia Friends Information sessions, and business owners form “action plans” – which are formalised as part of the Hampshire Dementia Action Alliance. Each action plan is different, depending on the part each business can play to contribute to the overall dementia friendliness of the town. An increasing number of businesses and organisations have already signed up to Dementia Friendly Hampshire. 

What is a Dementia Friendly Community?

  • A dementia friendly community is defined as where the greatest number of people can live a good life, live independently and part of their community; and are met with understanding and given support where needed.
  • Hampshire County Council wants the whole county to be a dementia friendly community. For the business community, this is primarily through organisations signing up to the Hampshire Dementia Action Alliance.
  • A Dementia Friendly High Street is a geographical area in the town or community where 20 or more organisations or businesses sign up to HDAA, enabling people with dementia to have the confidence to carry on using their local town/services. DF High Street members get window stickers to show they are Dementia Friendly, to promote to people with dementia and their carers.
  • At 31st Aug 2014, 18 months in to the programme, 249 businesses & organisations signed up to HDAA, with 6 Dementia High Streets launched – Fareham, Lyndhurst, Fleet, Romsey, Alton, Eastleigh. Lymington joins them as of 20 September.

 

Why is “dementia friendly” good for Lymington business?

  • More customers in town: Working with external organisations we will encourage more visitors to the town – those living with dementia still want to take holidays, days out, maybe even move locations later in life to somewhere better able to meet their needs. Plus if our community is accepting and indeed inviting of those people living with dementia they will continue to integrate and spend money, supporting businesses locally for longer.
  • Preference for your business: People will choose to spend their money with overtly dementia friendly businesses who are practically better able to meet their needs. Plus more generally preference for businesses that are seen to embrace their corporate social responsibilities – CSR is a bit of a corporate buzz word but it this type of initiative does make a difference to people within smaller communities. We will be providing dementia friendly businesses with window stickers and logos to put on your websites / brochures. For example at Linden House Dementia Care Home in the heart of Lymington there are 60 families; many of whom will be looking for dementia friendly services that we will promote.
  • Better customer service: We have provided information sessions free of charge to staff at over 30 organisations including Tesco and Waitrose and many independent retailers. Incredibly positive feedback from staff - even teenagers - who have said they have left these sessions with increased confidence, feeling better able to deal with those with greater needs. Dementia is one aspect but we have a great many elderly and frail people who would benefit from exactly the same principles. It encourages your workforce to consider their customers and think about them a little more
  • Fewer queues at busy times: The library found that large queues were developing behind those who at times became confused. Following their information sessions they made small changes, taking slower people to one side to keep other customers flowing and improving customer service
    Staff retention: Some of your best staff may in the future have to take on increased care responsibilities – as employers, if you understand their requirements you may be able to make acceptable changes to working arrangements thereby avoiding losing valuable team members in which you have made a significant investment.
  • Improved communication: Opportunity over time to re-appraise your, signage, brochures, websites etc. If you can see your business, and get it right through the eyes of someone with dementia then your key services / brand attributes / desired actions will be pretty clear to the rest of us.

 

This article was written by Jane Porter of lymington.com on behalf of Lymington Dementia Action Group and includes excerpts from presentations by

Tim Wookey, Marketing Director, Colten Care Homes and Chairman of Lymington Dementia Action Group

Debbie Morshead, Project Manager, Dementia Friendly Hampshire, funded by Hampshire County Council, delivered by Andover Mind

September 2014

 

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