As part of Dementia Awareness Week, health and social care organisations across Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire staged a dementia awareness event on Monday, 19 May 2014, at Turf Moor, Burnley. The event – for people with dementia, their families and professionals – was a huge success, providing those in attendance with valuable information about dementia and services and support.
Visitors were able to experience the Virtual Dementia Tour, which gave people the opportunity to simulate what those with the condition experience and how it impacts on their daily lives. Visitors were also able to meet those who provide care for people living with dementia and where to get support in their area.
A dementia café allowed people to chat about the condition with people who understand in a relaxing atmosphere. Dementia Friend sessions were staged to explain more about the symptoms of dementia and help in creating a better understanding and finding out about the support on offer for carers. Sally Naden from BBC Radio Lancashire, broadcast her daily 11am-1pm show live from the event, discussing living with dementia and interviewed different visitors. There was also the opportunity to see the latest innovative technology supporting people living in their home.
Representatives of Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust and Lancashire Care Foundation Trust and other organisations were also at the event to give information and ask for people’s views on services to support those with dementia and their families.
Peter Anwyl, who kicked the day off with a short presentation about his experiences of caring for his wife after she was diagnosed with dementia, said: “This event has been crucial to dispel all the myths and hard truths about dementia. There is a whole range of highly professional people in our communities whose whole objective it is to make life easier for the carers and the people cared for. Today has been a good day and has helped get the message about dementia out there.”
Joyce Redding, 61, from Burnley added: “One of my friends has recently been diagnosed with dementia and I want to help her as much as I can. I heard this event was happening today and wanted to come along to learn more and see what services and activities are available for people with dementia which she might be interested in. She is scared and very upset at the moment but I can see myself today that there are so many caring individuals from different organisations out there to help. It has been really eye -opening to see.”
An estimated 5,800 people across the area are believed to have dementiaand the number is predicted to increase by 50% in the next 15 years. Symptoms include memory loss, mood changes and problems with communicating and reasoning.
Debbie Nixon, Chief Operating Officer at NHS Blackburn with Darwen CCG, said: “This was a fantastic event which allowed many organisations from across the area to come together and improve awareness of dementia and dementia services. As lead commissioner for these services, I’d like to thank everybody who attended. All partners are united in ensuring patient outcomes are improved and supporting independent living. It is possible to live well with dementia.”
Alex Walker, Senior Operating Officer at NHS East Lancashire CCG said: “We would like to thank everybody who attended this fantastic event. Support to people with dementia and their carers is a priority for the CCG and improving awareness and understanding of the disease, as well as listening to the experiences of people living with dementia on a day to day basis, is at the heart of how we can improve our collective offer of support.”