Thursday, 14th April – The Launch of Holt as a Dementia Friendly Community
The Chair of the Steering Group, Wendy Richley, would like to thank everyone who was involved in the preparation for the launch – a great team effort; also those who attended, estimated at ±120. It was a truly wonderful occasion and rewarding to see so many local organisations and businesses represented and clearly committed to ensuring people with dementia feel confident and supported in accessing local services within our community.
“Thank you Holt”, for being such a caring and supportive community.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ A poem, read to the audience during the evening reached the hearts of all those at the event:
Song of the Optimist Anon
Below is an article written by Michael Brunson, seen here compèring the launch. The photographs were kindly provided by Age UK Norfolk.
An Article by Michael Brunson
You may have noticed that last month’s local press contained an article about the launch of the project to make Holt, and the district surrounding the town, a Dementia Friendly Community. The well-attended event took place on Thursday April 14th, and I was privileged to be asked to compère the evening.
Why privileged? Because the event was not just important in its own right, but because I found it a real eye-opener.
The project is designed, above all, to encourage local businesses to be aware of the great difficulties people suffering from dementia face, particularly when they leave their homes and venture out into the community, and to offer advice through free training sessions about taking simple steps which make life easier for them when they do so. However, there was so much that each and every person who was at the launch was able to learn simply by being there.
This, I should explain, will not be a full report of what happened. It’s simply my quick, and random, selection from the facts and the figures and the bits of practical advice which I heard, and which struck me most.
For example: the apparent explosion of the number of cases of dementia is, in truth, the direct result of all of us living longer. In the first year of the Queen’s reign she sent out 350 telegrams congratulating those who had reached their 100th birthday. Last year, she sent out 14,000.
The older you are, the greater your chances of getting the condition, though one speaker said she had helped to support a particular sufferer who was just 38 years old. In Norfolk alone, with its large number of older residents, there are now 17,000 people who have the condition.
A retired English teacher called Sue Rogers, who spoke with great courage and dignity, described herself as a user of the already-existing Holt and District Dementia Support Group (www.holtdementiasupport.org.uk). Her husband, the former industrial correspondent of the Glasgow Herald, has the condition. Sue talked about the difficulties of looking after him, but said how much she hated being described as his carer. ‘Of course I care for him,’ she said with some force, ‘because I am first and foremost his wife.’
We heard about loo signs. Yes, really. Dementia sufferers can become greatly distressed when faced with two doors displaying pictures of ‘señors’ and ‘señoritas’, and other rather silly notices, because they have lost the ability to distinguish between the two images and what they represent, but know that they face huge embarrassment if they get it wrong.
They can also find sorting out notes and small change at the supermarket checkout very difficult. Of course, the people at the tills are often well aware of what the problem is, and will, in any case, help all elderly people. But what about the attitude of the rest of us, silently, or perhaps not so silently, tut-tutting as we have to wait just a little longer in the queue?
So there was plenty of information, and practical advice for all, and not just for the businessmen and women who were present. Lots of food for thought, and some real food as well. Everyone had a piece of a huge ‘birthday’ or perhaps that should be ‘christening’, cake, specially baked and decorated by the Women’s Institute, to mark the moment when Holt joined the growing number of Norfolk towns and villages, and many others up and down the country, which have declared themselves Dementia Friendly Communities.
And there was one good, and true, story. It was about a hospital patient with dementia, but who still, as can often be the case, had plenty of his wits about him. His consultant came to see him about his consent form prior to surgery. ‘Now, do you understand what your operation is all about?’ the doctor enquired. ‘No,’ came the reply, ‘but I hope you do!’
Amelia Worley, Coordinator for Dementia Friendly Communities, Age UK Norfolk