Developing dementia-friendly communities

Posted under Blog on February 26th, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments

This week the BBC reported on the city of Bruges, in Belgium and its work to improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers.

There are 2,000 people in Bruges living with dementia, two-thirds of whom live in the community, so the city is going to great lengths to ensure that those people can live a life as close to normal as possible.

In 2012, the city won an award from the European Foundations’ Initiative on Dementia for its campaign Together for a dementia-friendly Bruges!, which aimed at fighting the stigma associated with dementia by involving the whole community and encouraging respect and tolerance for those with the condition.

Bruges pays special attention to supporting families and carers as well as patients. Some of the novel approaches Bruges has taken include:

· Signs displayed in shop windows to show that they are safe havens for people with dementia and that staff are ready to help those who may need it.

· Specialist dementia counsellors providing practical support for those with dementia, and therapy for their carers.

· A dementia choir of patients and carers which meets regularly to practice songs and tunes that they hope will stir memories that may have been lost.

The local police have also got involved, most recently developing a database of vulnerable citizens and their details including previous home and work addresses along with other relevant information that may save time in finding a person if they go missing.

The UK is taking inspiration from Bruges by looking to copy some of its support schemes but, more importantly, improve its attitude towards helping people with dementia. The UK Alzheimer’s Society and British Prime Minister David Cameron have both launched campaigns which aim to create dementia friendly cities and towns across the UK.

With an estimated 800,000 people in the UK living with dementia and numbers rising each year, ways of dealing with the condition in a compassionate and caring manner have become even more important.

Tags: Alzheimer's, Alzheimer's society, BBC, dementia initiative

Thousands of bus drivers to be taught about dementia

Posted under Blog on January 3rd, 2013 by Editorial Team / No Comments


Thousands of bus drivers around Britain are taking part in special training to help them assist passengers with dementia.  The dementia sensitivity awareness and training is part of an initiative announced by Prime Minister David Cameron, aimed at increasing understanding of the needs of people with dementia. 

As part of the training, drivers working for First Group undertake a series of tasks such as drawing pictures from memory and memory tests.  They are also briefed on how different forms of dementia affect the brain. 

Participating drivers are given practical advice and guidance on how they can best help passengers who are confused or in need of extra assistance, including smiling and making eye contact, letting the passenger sit down so they have extra time to compose themselves, and not pulling away quickly if they seem unsteady on their feet.

Many of the drivers taking part have admitted that if someone seems troublesome on a busy bus, their first instinct is to try to remove that passenger.  However, they now have greater awareness of what the problem might be, particularly if there is no smell of alcohol on the passenger’s breath.

The Alzheimer’s Society helped First Group with the development of the training curriculum and believes that bus drivers play an important role in helping those with dementia to remain independent. 

Andrew Chidgey, director of external affairs at the Alzheimer’s Society, says helping sufferers in this practical way is vital.  He said: “What this identifies for the drivers is they have a really important role in helping people in their community to remain independent. That’s also true for people like newsagents and other workers.”

Around 3,000 drivers for bus company FirstGroup will have completed the training by February 2013.  

Tags: bus drivers, dementia initiative, dementia sensitivity awareness



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