Alison Ward is a Researcher at the University of Northampton. The university is working to help make the town and county more dementia friendly, and has set up an award for local organisations to ‘win’ the services of an intern to help with this. Here, Alison blogs here about what the concept means in theory and practice and why organisations should enter.
Dementia is an international issue.
In the UK there are over 850,000 people living with a diagnosis of dementia and in Northamptonshire it is expected that 12,000 people will be living with a diagnosis of dementia by 2025. We can all do something small to become more aware of the issues of dementia and support those who are diagnosed or caring for someone with dementia. But how?
The Dementia Friends programme by the Alzheimer’s Society was set up to help change people’s perceptions about dementia, as they say to help ‘transform the way the nation things, acts and talks about the condition’.
This programme has expanded and there is now the Dementia Friendly Communities programme which aims to encourage a collaborative approach to ensuring all organisations and groups work towards helping people with dementia to ‘feel understood, valued and able to contribute to their communities’.
Northamptonshire, led by the Northampton Dementia Action Alliance, is aiming to become a dementia friendly county and as a university, we wanted to help support this initiative by setting up the Dementia Friendly Organisation Award.
The award is designed to provide organisations with an opportunity to work alongside a University of Northampton intern, usually a recent graduate, to improve the experiences of people with dementia and their carers. The winning organisation will receive the free support of a full time intern for 10 weeks, to help develop and implement their vision to become a dementia friendly organisation.
Organisations can already take simple steps to becoming dementia friendly. This may just involve giving people more time and having a friendly person on-hand who understands how they might be feeling. This can be achieved by accessing free dementia friends training for staff.
Physical environments can also be disorientating for people with dementia and organisations can look at making sure their signage is clear and easy to understand or review the lighting in stairwells and use of patterns and shiny surfaces.
Another important area is reviewing support for family members of people with dementia, who may be providing care alongside their work lives, or people with dementia who want to continue working. You can look at policies and provide support for people to stay in work.
Being a dementia friendly organisation can bring a number of benefits. It can support people with dementia and their family carers to remain an active part of their communities and workplaces. It can help develop an inclusive and empowering culture within the workplace which may help with staff retention, productivity and quality of service. It also works towards businesses fulfilling legal requirements under the Equality Act 2010.
Please support the important initiative to make Northamptonshire a dementia friendly county and be apply for the Dementia Friendly Organisation Award.
If you would like more information about the award or want to apply, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information about the award is available online.