New group harbours ambitions of making Saffron Walden a ‘dementia-friendly community’

The Saffron Walden Dementia Action Alliance The Saffron Walden Dementia Action Alliance

Thursday, May 22, 2014
9:54 AM

Improving the lives of people with dementia, and their carers, is the driving force behind a social movement to make Saffron Walden a ‘dementia-friendly community’.

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The Saffron Walden Dementia Action Alliance, founded by Great Sampford resident Graeme Whippy and retired GP Dr Andy Nicolson, aims to bring together relevant organisations and people to work towards that common goal.

A steering group has now been formed to give the DAA strategic direction and ensure that it delivers on its goals.

Mr Whippy, interim chairman of the steering group, said: “Our ultimate goal is that every shop, business and service in the town becomes confident in recognising the signs of dementia, has an understanding of how it can impact those who live with it and treat them in a way that helps them remain a valued part of our community.

“To do this though we will need help – we are seeking volunteers who can help raise awareness and recruit members. The DAA is a social movement in which we can all play a part.”

According to the Office of National Statisticts, over 1,000 people in Saffron Walden live with dementia, although this is likely to be far higher – only 40 per cent of people with the condition are diagnosed. And, with an ageing population, the situation will only deepen.

Yet it is possible for people to live well with dementia with the right support and understanding from those around them, said Mr Whippy.

“A dementia-friendly community is one where dementia is recognised, understood and accommodated in every day life, resulting in people living with dementia being treated with respect, dignity and given as much independence as possible, whilst their carers are supported and enabled to enjoy a good quality of life,” he explained.

“Members of the DAA will all commit to taking action to helping people live well with dementia – no action is too small and it’s often the little changes in behavior and attitude that can make the big difference.”

The DAA has already received strong backing. A number of key businesses and service providers met in March at the invitation of Sir Alan Haselhurst MP to kick-off the formation of the initiative. Then-mayor Keith Eden was present along with representatives from Waitrose, Lloyds Bank, the emergency services, Rotary Club, Saffron Walden County High School, Tees Law and several others, including the Reporter.

Mr Whippy and Dr Nicolson, a member of the Rotary Club, also consulted with people living with dementia and their carers to get an understanding of their needs and aspirations for a dementia-friendly Saffron Walden.

Among the aims of the DAA include recruiting members, providing support and training to organisations that wish to become dementia-friendly, encouraging the creation of ‘Dementia Friends’ and ‘Dementia Friends Champions’. The group will also work towards Dementia-friendly Community Status.

Saffron Walden Dementia Action Alliance is keen to recruit new volunteers. For information, email info@saffronwaldendaa.org.uk

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