Launch of South Devon Dementia Friendly parishes
FIVE parishes have united to support people and their families living with dementia.
Residents and businesses in Yealmpton, Brixton, Wembury, Holbeton and Newton and Noss have signed up to a two year initiative to improve awareness of the health condition which can make everyday tasks stressful and isolating for those with dementia.
The Dementia Friendly project brings together parish councils, health centres, the National Farmers' Union, faith groups, transport services, local businesses and schools.
Alzheimer's Society Ambassador Angela Rippon helped launch the scheme at Otter Nurseries in Brixton on Friday.
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Project co-ordinator Maxine Kennedy said: "Our aim is to build and reinforce socially inclusive communities for those who have dementia through raising awareness and harnessing goodwill and understanding within participating parishes."
Over £38,000 of funding has been contributed to employ someone to work within the South Devon parishes with local shop staff, organisations and groups to raise dementia awareness and promote friendly services.
Roger Monson, from the Plymouth Saltram Rotary Club, who chairs the project management committee, said: "Our hope is to have a proven sustainable blueprint in two years that other communities across the UK can replicate.
"For relatively modest levels of funding, collectively we can make an enormous difference to the lives and experiences of those with dementia and their carers so that they can stay safe and welcome in their neighbourhoods. This should prevent stressful admissions to hospital or respite care."
The project will be monitored and its impact evaluated by a research team at the University of Plymouth.
Ian Sheriff, who is a member of the Government's Dementia Friendly Communities Champion task group, said: "The challenge we face as families, communities and a country cannot be underestimated when it comes to responding to the growing number of people with dementia.
"We owe it to each other to understand what dementia is and how it affects people so that when we come across it in our personal, social or working lives we can respond with kindness and patience.
"The parishes around the Yealm are well placed to take on this challenge because they already have good sense of community."
This approach has been hailed by Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt as an example of how he hoped other communities would come together in support of people with dementia and their carers.
Local councillor and Leader of Devon County Council, Cllr John Hart, added: "We are delighted to be supporting this really worthwhile project. As our population ages in Devon more families are going to be faced with the stark reality of the challenges which come with dementia. It is vitally important that there is grass roots support for them."