March 1 2017

Representatives of 18 communities in Wiltshire came together to exchange ideas about making their towns and villages more welcoming for people affected by dementia.

The county’s second Dementia Aware Forum was hosted by Alzheimer’s Support and Alzheimer’s Society at Trowbridge Town Hall.

When a similar event was held in April last year, just one community, Calne, had set up a formal network of businesses, community groups, councillors and volunteers committed to helping residents affected by dementia. Now there are 15 Dementia Action Alliances (DAAs) in Wiltshire, with the remaining three areas due to set up their alliances by the end of March.

Penny Ford, Alzheimer's Society DAA Projects Manager South said: “A lot has been achieved. Then we had one alliance. Now we have 15, which is amazing.”

The forum heard about successes and challenges from three areas, Trowbridge, Tidworth and Salisbury, before workshop sessions on ways to make the project sustainable when funding from Wiltshire Council ends later this year. 

Marc Read, Wiltshire Council community engagement manager for Tidworth said the area was proud of what it had achieved to support people but that setting up the DAA was just a start. He said: “Setting up the alliance was the easy part. We need more people to get involved. We need more businesses to take on a role.”

He said the Area Board was encouraging all its grant recipients to join the alliance and find out how they can do more to support their customers with dementia.

The forum also heard from carer Tony Whitney, who talked about the difference it made to him and to his wife Donna, who is in late stage dementia, when they were treated with kindness and understanding when out and about. He said: “There is nothing really difficult about being dementia friendly. It’s about respecting others’ independence, including the person in conversations, being ready to offer help when somebody appears to be struggling, acting in a kind, patient and considerate way and respecting the individual as a person. When a society behaves in this way, it’s a benefit to everybody, not just to people with dementia.”

Building dementia-friendly communities