The Dementia — Let’s Talk About It event at Ryde Library with the library’s Jo Dodd and Emma Lincoln. Picture by Robin Crossley.
WIGHT LIVING AS PEOPLE live longer, there can scarcely be a family untouched by dementia.
Its prevalence is higher on the Island than any other area in the UK, so where better to pilot a project to help people understand and assist those whose powers and processes are in decline?
One project has just been launched in Ryde with the aim of it spreading across the whole of the Island. It is one of just four in the whole of the south-east.
Emma Lincoln, health and wellbeing development officer at Age UK IW, is working with a wide range of organisations towards creating a Dementia Friendly IW.
It is a response to David Cameron’s personal challenge to communities to spawn Dementia Action Alliances.
"Throughout this month, Ryde is taking up the Prime Minister’s challenge to establish itself as the Island’s first dementia-friendly community, helping to raise awareness of the needs of people with dementia, thus helping them to live as independently as possible," said Emma.
"By creating a dementia-friendly Island, we will be having a huge effect not only on the people with dementia but also their carers.
"Quality of life for everyone involved will be increased and fear and denial reduced within communities. We believe minimising stress on the carers will help reduce medical costs for them and also delay the costs relating to hospitalisation or nursing home care."
The project began with an invitation to businesses, organisations and GP practices to become dementia aware.
They can join the national Dementia Action Alliance and be recognised with a Dementia Friendly IW logo.
A celebration took place on Wednesday at Yelf’s Hotel, where a selection of businesses supporting the project received their logos.
Southern Vectis is adding the Dementia Friendly IW logo to timetables on bus shelters in Ryde and producing a Safe Journey Card for people with dementia to carry.
All staff are having dementia awareness training, which is also available to all other organisations taking part, with guidance on how to help people with dementia to continue to be part of their community.
A big part of that is helping people by being understanding and giving support when they need it. You need to put yourself in the shoes of those with the condition. Imagine the fear and confusion, for instance, of getting on a bus, not knowing where you are going or indeed where you have been?
Studies have shown just how isolating dementia is, but if people can still safely spread their wings, horizons need not diminish as quickly.
The IW Fire and Rescue Service is involved, with 60 of its staff undertaking training sessions.
Tower House Surgery in Ryde becomes a Dementia Safe Haven, a place for anyone with dementia to be taken if they are feeling lost or confused.
All staff are undertaking training and one of the surgery’s healthcare assistants sports a dementia-friendly uniform — immediately recognisable in pink.
That is part of the IW NHS being increasingly dementia aware.
It held a Dementia Awareness Day at St Mary’s Hospital recently, which provided education and support and was open both to staff and members of the public.
Wightlink staff at the Ryde terminal are having dementia awareness training and Ryde School will be presenting dementia-awareness assemblies, Year 9 students will study the subject and volunteering opportunities are being organised.
Everything people need to know about dementia, statistics and how it affects people are covered by the training courses and more particularly how to communicate effectively with people who suffer from it.
Ryde Library unveiled a permanent dementia resources section as part of their Dementia — Let’s Talk About It event on Saturday.
There were presentations, Memory Group taster sessions and a short Reminiscence Workshop, events designed to stimulate older minds and preserve valuable memories.
• A number of smaller events have been planned, full details of which can be found on the Age UK IW website www.ageukiw.org.uk
Emma Lincoln can be contacted on 01983 525282 or at firstname.lastname@example.org