Actress Carey Mulligan appointed first UK Global Dementia Friends Ambassador by Alzheimer’s Society and Jeremy Hunt.
In her new role, Carey will bring both international attention to the benefits of making communities dementia friendly, and a renewed focus on the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme in England.
To mark the announcement, Carey spent time with Health Minister Jeremy Hunt at Heathrow Airport, which is working towards becoming the world’s first dementia friendly airport, to lead a Dementia Friends training session for the airport’s staff. She set out the UK’s role as a global leader in dementia and outlined her plans to champion the rights of people with dementia across the world.
The airport provides a personalised customer journey for passengers with dementia where in advance of their flight they can take part in a virtual 360 degree tour of their journey and are provided with quiet and therapeutic areas in the airport to wait in. Heathrow has also pledged for all 76,000 customer-facing staff to be dementia-aware, through Dementia Friends sessions, training and online resources.
Carey aims to inspire and engage world leaders to tackle stigma and promote understanding of dementia, a condition that her grandmother, Nans, lives with. Her first action in her new role will be marking World Alzheimer’s Day on 21 September by delivering a Dementia Friends session to a youth group in Los Angeles to spread greater awareness among young people about the condition.
Carey Mulligan said:
My Nans has dementia and I have experienced first-hand how devastating it can be. It affects everyone differently, and it’s so important that everyone affected by the condition is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. At the moment, there’s not nearly enough awareness and as a global society we have a duty to change that.
The first step involves educating people and breaking down stigma – not just on our doorstep, but across the world. I’ve seen my mum doing this in her role as a Dementia Friends Champion - now I’m honoured to become the first Global Dementia Friends Ambassador and help Alzheimer’s Society and the government change global attitudes towards dementia.
Secretary of State for Health, Jeremy Hunt, said:
We have made great strides in improving diagnosis rates, investing in research and creating the first dementia friendly communities, but we still have much further to go to promise everyone that they will be able to live well with the condition.
The impact of dementia tears at families and at our social fabric - that’s why making progress is a key government priority. Carey Mulligan will be a great asset both in raising awareness and promoting the benefits of the Dementia Friends programme – at home and globally.
The announcement of Carey Mulligan’s new role comes as the government launches its new Dementia Atlas. This interactive map of England allows people to make comparisons about the quality of dementia care in their area, on issues such as prevention, diagnosis and support.
This week also sees the launch of the new NHS Health Check Dementia Pilots. Public Health England is working with Alzheimer’s Research UK and Alzheimer’s Society to extend the dementia risk reduction component of the NHS Health Check to all 40-64-year-olds at sites in Birmingham, Bury, Manchester City and Southampton City. This will see over 250 GP practices raising awareness about dementia risk reduction among people in midlife as part of the health check for the first time.
Since 2013, over 1.6 million people have signed up to become a Dementia Friend, and there are now more than 150 dementia friendly communities in England alone. The Alzheimer’s Society hopes to achieve 4 million Dementia Friends by 2020. The main aims of the programme are to tackle the stigma around dementia that results in people feeling excluded from their communities and improve the lives of those with the condition and their families.