Published Monday 29 June 2015 at 12:59
A scheme to help people develop an understanding of dementia and assist people living with it is proving to be a massive success in Blackburn with Darwen.
The national Dementia Friends campaign was launched by Public Health England and the Alzheimer’s Society in May 2014 and is supported locally by Blackburn with Darwen Council and Blackburn with Darwen 50+ Partnership.
New figures for the scheme show that between September 2014 and June 2015 the number of Dementia Friends in Blackburn with Darwen rose from 471 to 2,656 – an increase of 2,185 people.
People can become a Dementia Friend by watching an interactive video online to increase their understanding of the condition and then use what they learn to assist people in their local community. Dementia Friends will be able to spot signs of dementia and know how to offer support – no matter how small.
The impressive increase in numbers has been attributed in part to a project launched locally to make 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.
A Dementia co-ordinator, Zoe Aldcroft, has been jointly commissioned by the Council and Blackburn with Darwen CCG via Age UK to support local organisations, businesses and groups to take steps to be more supportive of people with dementia and help co-ordinate developments in local health care and other services.
A wide range of events was carried out for the recent Dementia Awareness Week, including a Healthy Minds event at King Georges’ Hall which gathered together those people directly affected by dementia, members of the public, health professionals, Age UK, 50+ Partnership and Blackburn with Darwen Council officials.
The local work 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.
In Blackburn with Darwen, it is estimated that there are around 1,420 people with dementia (both diagnosed or undiagnosed), with that figure expected to rise.
Councillor Mustafa Desai, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said:
It’s fantastic to see all the hard work being done locally have such a tangible and positive impact. Dementia can be a confusing and scary condition for all affected by it and through this campaign people in Blackburn with Darwen have clearly taken responsibility to help as much as possible. I’d like to see even more people come forward now to take the training and become Dementia Friends.
Vicky Shepherd, Chief Executive of Age UK BwD and chair of the dementia strategy group, said:
It’s really pleasing to see the increase in dementia friends locally, which is a credit to the people of the borough. We do however need to keep up the momentum. With many people being worried about themselves or loved ones with dementia, and how they will manage, it is vital that we continue to work together to further develop and improve the support available.
If you interested in becoming a Dementia Friend, several free training sessions are planned: Friday July 31, 1pm, Witton Park Academy; Friday August 14, 10am, Blackburn Central High School; Monday August 24, 1pm, Blackburn Central Library; Wednesday August 26, 1pm, Bentham Road Health Centre; Tuesday September 22, 1pm, Bank Top Neighbourhood Learning Centre; Thursday October 8, 1pm, Bank Top Neighbourhood Learning Centre and Wednesday November 4, 1pm, Bank Top Neighbourhood Learning Centre.
For more information or to book a place contact: (01254) 266620.
Watch a short film about the Healthy Minds event that ran during Dementia Awareness Week here