Oxfordshire County Council Planning to be a Dementia Friendly Council
Vulnerable residents and staff who are impacted by dementia will receive support and guidance as Oxfordshire County Council reveals plans to become a more dementia-friendly organisation. The aim is to develop further awareness and understanding for those living with the health condition.
The word ‘dementia’ describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss and difficulties with thinking, problem-solving or language. A person with dementia may also experience changes in their mood or behaviour.
The number of people with dementia in the UK is expected to rise to 1 million by 2021. About two in every 100 people aged between 65 to 69 have dementia, and this rises to one in five for those aged 85 to 89. Oxfordshire has an ageing population and the number of residents aged 85 and over is forecast to increase.
This means that more people in Oxfordshire are likely to be affected by dementia, either by having a diagnosis themselves or through someone they know with the condition. More people may develop dementia whilst still in employment; others will be combining work and a busy lifestyle with being a carer for a person with dementia. Therefore, awareness is key to understanding the lifestyle changes, choices and challenges that will occur with an individual’s diagnosis.
Oxfordshire County Council aims to help people who live with dementia to stay independent and live well in their communities for as long as possible. The council’s plans are part of a wider Alzheimer’s Society initiative that aims to create a network of four million Dementia Friends across the country by 2020.
As the first step to becoming more dementia friendly, the Alzheimer’s Society hosted an event for staff and councillors at County Hall on Tuesday 25 February. During the session the group over 25 attendees completed a ‘dementia friends’ training session to improve awareness and learn about dementia friendly communities in Oxfordshire (see picture) below. People were encouraged to reach out to the community to run errands, visit someone, volunteer and campaign to raise awareness.
Harry Johnson, Dementia Friendly Communities Officer for South East England, Alzheimer's Society said: A lot of stigma continues to surround dementia and we know that many people living with the condition continue to be cut off from society. Alongside funding for quality care and support, there’s actions we can all take to involve people affected by dementia in our communities. I’m pleased to see the initiative Oxfordshire County Council are taking, setting the bar high for other local councils.
The next step in the plan is to help to develop dementia friendly communities across Oxfordshire to help to reduce isolation and support people to be aware of and understand dementia. This will enable people living with dementia to live well within their local communities for as long as they are able.
Councillor Lawrie Stratford, the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care & Public Health said: dementia is having an impact on our lives more and more with friends and family affected by this condition. As a council, we know we have a key role in developing inclusive dementia friendly communities and I’m pleased to hear of these plans that will make a positive impact for those who need it. We are keen to enable people who have been diagnosed with dementia to live as full a life as possible and encourage communities to work together to help people to stay healthier for longer.
Information about existing support services and groups for people living with dementia, their family and carers is available from the website Live Well Oxfordshire which has been developed by the council in partnership with Age UK Oxfordshire. The online directory is a ‘one-stop shop’, designed to bring together information about groups and organisations across Oxfordshire that offer services for adults, their families and carers.
You can find out more about dementia on the Alzheimer’s Society website.