What are Dementia Friends? What are we doing at SDN?

We at Shropshire Disability Network ended 2013 with a very good meeting having 3 great speakers at our meeting on 11th December. Both Nick Beighton & Ben Rowlings inspired many of you with their presentations and this was followed by Tony Lawrence getting attendees joining in with simple Tai Chi exercises. It is good to hear from many of you how inspired you were. So what next? 

Our plans for 2014 are to bring you more inspiring speakers and topics, so please keep checking this website as details emerge. As a taster of what is to come, we have details finalised for one of two presentations at our meeting on Thursday 13th March at Oswestry (see other details on our calender of events) 

Last year two of your Management Committee attended a talk about Dementia Friends at Telford. Both become Dementia Friends and one of them has gone on to become a Dementia Friends Champion. So why bring this topic to SDN? 

Dementia Friends is a National initiative that is being run by the Alzheimer’s Society & funded by the government. The aim is to improve people’s understanding of dementia and its effects on individuals, families, friends, & communities. Together we can create dementia friendly communities. 

It is hoped by 2015 to create a network of a million Dementia Friends in England. To do this, we at SDN feel it would be good to have a presentation to increase our understanding of how we can make a difference. We are an organisation for people with all kinds of disabilities as well as Carers so we try to bring a varied programme. 

Some people may frightened & don’t know what to say or do when they meet someone who may have dementia. Raising awareness can make all the difference to both people with dementia & their carers. Sometimes it is just about giving a helping hand enabling people to do something that would be difficult but its also about them feeling included in their local community. So what kind of help can we give? It may be an offer to help someone to cross the road, get on the right bus, or help at a supermarket check out. Often it is helping dementia sufferers carry out a task that for the non sufferer is taken for granted. By helping with a simple task it can make all the difference to someones life. 

Dementia Friends is all about giving people an understanding of dementia and the small things we can do that make a difference to people living with it.

The Dementia Friends Programme is an important part of the Alzheimers Societys work on building dementia-friendly communities, and a great way for individuals to use their networks and connections to make everyday life better for people with dementia. 

So what is a Dementia Friendly Community? It is one that shows a high level of public awareness, so that people with dementia and their carers are encouraged to seek help and are supported by their community. These communities are more inclusive of people with dementia, and improve their ability to remain independentand have choice and control over their lives. 

Many villages, towns and cities are already taking steps towards becoming or have an ambition to become dementia friendly. It is acknowledged that realising dementia friendly communities will take a number of years. The dementia friendly communities programme was launched at the Alzheimer’s Dementia 2012 conference. Through the programme, it is aimed to give public recognition and support to villages, towns, cities and national organisations who are taking steps towards being more inclusive of people with dementia. 

A Dementia Friend or a Dementia Friends Champion is someone who has a better understanding of dementia. They will know how to act more sympathetically towards people with dementia in their communities and work places but will also turn their understanding into action to help people with dementia feel included in their communities. 

So come along to our meeting, it is an opportunity to become a Dementia Friend. It is as simple as attending a presentation by a trained Dementia Friends Champion then agreeing to some kind of action-which could be as simple as wearing your badge to raise awareness or telling someone on Face Book or Twitter you are a Dementia Friend. You could tell work colleagues about Dementia Friends or arrange a talk from a Dementia Friends Champion at another organisation you belong to. You may decide to look into training as a Champion, the choice is yours. We want to raise awareness of this at SDN so hope you will join us for another meeting which we hope will inspire and enthuse. 

We still have to confirm details of our second speaker but as soon as we have those details we will share them with you. Looking forward to seeing you Thursday 13th March 2014

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