Event raises awareness of dementia

Published Thursday 21 May 2015 at 13:42

The focus was on ‘healthy minds’ in Blackburn with Darwen at an event to raise awareness of dementia.

Age UK Blackburn with Darwen and the Blackburn with Darwen 50+ Partnership hosted the Healthy Minds event at King George’s Hall, on May 19, gathering together those people directly affected by dementia, members of the public, health professionals, Age UK, 50+ Partnership and Blackburn with Darwen Council officials.

The event featured a talk from Alex Burton, 65 from Leyland, who is living with a diagnosis of dementia and a carer for someone with dementia Christine Robinson.

They explained to those in attendance what it’s like to live with the condition and to care for someone with it. Alex, who has set up his own campaign group Lancashire Dementia Voices, said:

“I am an engineer by background so to me everything is black and white. So when I started to turn up for appointments on the wrong day and at the wrong time I knew something was wrong.

“Initially, my GP said ‘everyone loses their keys every now and then’. I said ‘but what if you forget you are looking for your keys in the first place?’

“Following my diagnosis I was staggered to find that I could find no ongoing help or support and that is what events like this are all about – getting the issue out onto the table and getting all the agencies talking to each other to improve the situation.”

Christine, who looked after her elderly mother for five years before she moved into a care home, said:

“To start with she had more good days than bad but then after three years there were more bad days than good until in the end there were no good days at all.

“We must raise awareness of the situation many carers are in, where they end up suffering from mental and physical exhaustion and just need things like more respite care, so they know their loved ones are being looked after in a safe environment.

“I am not trained as a nurse and feel in a lot of cases I have been left to find out things out for myself.

“Events like this are massive in terms of raising awareness of what is becoming a critical situation.”

The event included a dementia awareness workshop and dementia-related activities sessions as well as presentations by the Alzheimer’s Society, Fire and Rescue Service, Age UK BwD and the Council all talking about their involvement in local dementia care.

Organisers created 100 new ‘Dementia Friends’, who pledged to increase their understanding of the condition and use what they learn to actively assist people in the local community.

Healthy Minds comes on the back of a new project with support from the Blackburn with Darwen 50+ Partnership working with Age UK and Blackburn with Darwen Council to make local communities in the borough dementia friendly and identify those with the condition early and support them from diagnosis to the stage of needing more care and support.

It is part of a wider plan of integrated care between the Council, NHS and voluntary sector to provide more care and support for people in the local community.

Zoe Aldcroft, Dementia Strategy Co-ordinator of Age UK Blackburn with Darwen said:

“It has been a great day with so much support; the services throughout Blackburn with Darwen have really pulled together. This was a prime opportunity for people to find out more about dementia, take part in workshops, find out about the range of services and support available, contribute to discussions and a time to relax and enjoy. I just want to say a big thank you to everyone who supported and contributed in making this event happen and I hope everyone found it useful”.

Steve Tingle, Director of Commissioning and Adults Services for Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:

“Events like this are key to us in terms of assessing how we can provide better services for people living with dementia and their carers and it is very important that we de-stigmatise the whole issue of dementia.

“The Council can learn a lot from the experiences of people living with dementia and how best we can fill the gaps in our current service and identify and support carers more.

“It can be something as simple as providing technology such as a fall alarm to allow the carer to get on with things in another room from the person with dementia.

“Events like this can’t just be a one-off. We have to listen, listen hard and listen frequently.”

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