Communities Secretary Greg Clark urged more councils to contact their local branch of the Alzheimer’s Society and offer training to their staff to help the society reach 4 million Dementia Friends by 2020.
His comments came after he and the wider ministerial team at the Department for Communities and Local Government themselves became Dementia Friends, following a training session with the charity’s chief executive, Jeremy Hughes.
There are already over 1.3 million Dementia Friends across England – part of the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions and transform the way the nation thinks, talks and acts about the condition.
Britain has emerged as the world leader in fighting dementia since 2010, with investment in research doubled.
Communities Secretary Greg Clark said:
Councils are at the forefront of offering help to the thousands of people living with dementia and the families who support them.
Becoming a Dementia Friend takes only an hour, but can help ensure anyone with the condition is treated with the respect and dignity they need and deserve.
I’m pleased that my ministerial team are getting involved and that so many councils across the country are doing the same. I would now urge others to follow suit and spread the word.
Jeremy Hughes, CEO Alzheimer’s Society said:
Dementia is the biggest health challenge facing society today and cannot be ignored. In the UK, 850,000 people are living with dementia and this number is set to rise to over one million people by the end of the current parliament.
The leadership from the DCLG is welcome and much needed. With their support we can encourage all councils to join the growing number committed to become dementia friendly, with their staff showing the way in their communities by becoming Dementia Friends.
Over 110 local authorities are part of the Dementia Action Alliance which supports communities and organisations across England to take practical actions to help people to live well with dementia and reduce the risk of crisis intervention.
These councils include:
Wolverhampton council were one of the first in the country to have all of their senior councillors become Dementia Friends in 2015. Since then local authority has developed over 2,500 Dementia Friends with the face-to-face sessions in the city and will continue to roll the initiative out across more organisations.
Havering council achieved ‘Dementia-Friendly Borough’ status in October 2014 and now has Dementia Friends champions in every care home and domiciliary care agency in the area.
Warwickshire council reached their target of signing up 10,000 people to become Dementia Friends in just 10 months.
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme aims to help people understand more about the condition and how they can get involved. Further details can be found at visit dementiafriends.org.uk
The fight against dementia has also been boosted by the $100 million Dementia Discovery Fund, which brings together investment from the government and a number of charity and private sector partners as an innovative way of financing research into new dementia drugs and treatments.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society, there are 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK which costs the UK economy £26.3 billion a year. For further information visit www.alzheimers.org.uk.