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Dementia Awareness Week

Date: 18 May 2021
Author: Cllr Roger Crouch
Title: Borough Dementia Champion

Dementia Awareness Week (17 to 23 May 2021) reminds us that one in three of us born in the UK today will go on to develop dementia in our lifetime. By 2025 there will be one million people living with dementia making dementia care one of the greatest challenges facing our society.

I am sure we all know family members or friends who have experience of dementia either as someone with a diagnosis of dementia or as a carer. In the Richmond Borough, there are approximately 1,500 individuals with a diagnosis and this number will increase in line with our ageing local population.

In recent months, Richmond Council has stepped up its efforts to become a Dementia Friendly borough building on the existing work of the voluntary sector and the various elements of the NHS locally. Age UK Richmond have been commissioned to support the Borough’s efforts to become Dementia Friendly.

I encourage anyone effected by dementia, or organisations and businesses who are keen to become more dementia friendly to sign up to the Dementia Friendly initiative.

Age UK Richmond will work with participating members to set up an action plan for the year ahead which identifies three action points to help members become more dementia friendly. It is great to see the positive initial input from local businesses, the voluntary and heritage sector who see the value in ensuring that their businesses and services are accessible to those with dementia and their carers.

The last year has been particularly ghastly for those with dementia and their carers. The series of lockdowns has increased the sense of loneliness, abandonment and bewilderment. As we tread cautiously into a post-COVID world, I would encourage all Richmond upon Thames residents, business and organisations to consider what steps they can take to help us become a Dementia Friendly borough where those with dementia and their carers can:

  • Travel to where they want to go safely
  • Live somewhere they feel supported, understood and included in community life
  • Receive the help they need to access quality health, care and support services when and where they need it
  • Be able to participate in all that the area has to offer in arts, culture, and leisure
  • Feel confident to visit local high streets and town centres.

For many families and carers, much continuing distress is created by the broken care system. Councillors from all political parties on Richmond Council have repeatedly called upon the Government to bring forward proposals to reform and fund properly the social care system. It is a huge disappointment that the recent Queen’s Speech brought forward no concrete proposals to make progress on this issue.

This issue is one of immense importance for the future and it is vital that a solution is reached with cross-party consensus behind it. As the Alzheimer’s Society state, dementia is sadly not curable, however, the flaws in the care system can be cured with political initiative. We will do all we can locally to continue to build a Dementia Friendly community and to support people and carers with dementia. But to really improve the lives of people affected by dementia and to help those carers who reach points of crisis we look to central Government to deliver on its commitments.

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Updated: 19 October 2021