Leeds City Council signed up to making the city a dementia friendly community last March, as part of a nationwide initiative led by the Alzheimer’s Society and the Department of Health. A report to executive board next week provides an overview of progress to date and sets out plans of how this aspiration will be achieved.
The council and local NHS organisations, working with a wide range of stakeholders, have produced a draft strategy, Living Well with Dementia in Leeds, which is due to be finalised with a published action plan early in 2013. It recognises that:
• dementia is a long-term condition, which can be managed to maintain wellbeing; and usually co-exists with other long-term conditions;
• support must be co-ordinated throughout the ‘dementia journey’, from awareness of early signs and symptoms, to care at the end of life.
• Family members and carers are often the most important support that a person with dementia has, and have specific needs arising from the impact of dementia on relationships, decision-making, and daily living.
A list of priorities has been identified for improving health and social care for people with dementia in Leeds. Work is also taking place to engage with a wide range of businesses and organisations outside of health and social care, who may have never considered that they also have an important role in helping people to live well with dementia.
The Dementia Friendly Leeds Forum has been set up to bring together representatives from voluntary and community groups including neighbourhood networks, who have been developing more services for people with dementia and helping more of them to take part in activities.
Councillor Christine MacNiven, chair of the Dementia-Friendly Leeds Forum said:
"Dementia is one of the greatest challenges facing our ageing society, and possibly the condition in later life that people fear the most. But it is possible to live well with dementia as long as support and information is readily available from the start.
“Becoming a dementia-friendly community seems like a simple idea, but is complex in practice as it requires the commitment of so many businesses and organisations to make it work.
“The Leeds Dementia Action Alliance will help to co-ordinate a citywide approach to this work, and really promote the idea that dementia is everybody’s business. With strong support networks in place from the earliest possible stages of dementia, people’s wellbeing will be maintained for longer and the high costs associated with the condition can be reduced.”
It is estimated that there are 8,400 people with dementia in Leeds, of whom 4,000 have a diagnosis recorded. It is proposed that the next steps for Leeds in its aim to become a dementia friendly city are:
• Supporting stronger involvement of people living with dementia, families and carers.
• Supporting the formation of a Leeds Dementia Action Alliance, with wider membership across business, community and statutory organisations, and supporting local towns and villages to sign up and identify their own leaders and ‘champions’ for dementia.
• Leeds City Council to take a lead in ensuring a dementia-friendly approach, including making provision to provide dementia-awareness training for appropriate customer-facing staff.
• Developing awareness-raising work with supermarkets and transport providers.
• A “flagship” project to pilot a dementia-friendly environment in a supermarket or other well-used building.
• Supporting the development of intergenerational work, including steps to involve more schools.
For media enquiries, please contact;
Claire Macklam, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 395 1578