Dementia Published: Thursday, 18th September 2014

Oldham Council and NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are supporting a campaign to help people develop a better understanding of dementia and help people to live well with the disease.

Both public organisations – who were instrumental in forming the Oldham Dementia Partnership and are also members of the local Dementia Action Alliance – are committed to creating more Dementia Friends across Oldham.

As World Alzheimer’s Day* takes place on Sunday, September 21 – a local target has been set to achieve 500 Dementia Friends in the borough by Christmas.

Dementia Friends learn a little bit about what it's like to live with dementia and can turn that understanding into action.

With a helping hand, people living with dementia can still enjoy their hobbies, have good social networks and relationships and live independently for longer.

Like the rest of the UK, Oldham is facing a health crisis. There are currently 1,700 Oldham residents who have been diagnosed as having dementia. This is only 67 per cent of the predicted prevalence of dementia for Oldham, which means there are likely to be more people who have dementia but haven’t been diagnosed yet.

The number of people diagnosed with dementia in Oldham is predicted to rise by two thirds by 2030.

So improving the lives of people with dementia is a top priority it is and one the Oldham Dementia Partnership and the Dementia Action Alliance are tackling now.

However, they need your support and it could just take an hour of your time or watching an interactive video to get a better understanding of those living with the disease.

The Dementia Friends campaign, launched by Public Health England and Alzheimer's Society, is also encouraging people to spread the vital messages and implement their experience on a daily basis.

Already local businesses, members of the public and health and social care providers are doing their bit to help people with dementia and strive towards creating a Dementia Friendly Community** in Oldham.

Around 20 employees at the Oldham Evening Chronicle recently took part in a one-hour Dementia Friends session at their headquarters – carried out by Sue Neilson, co-ordinator of the Dementia Partnership Support Team and Dementia Friend Champion.

This session was also attended by Debbie Abrahams, Oldham East and Saddleworth MP, who is the first MP to become a Dementia Friends Champion.

A Dementia Friends Champion is someone who has completed a one-day course to learn how to deliver Dementia Friends sessions. Anyone can volunteer to do this.

Alan Higgins, Director of Public Health for Oldham said: "One in three of us over the age of 65 will develop dementia which is an incredibly high amount of people.

“However, people with dementia can live well, and it is the responsibility of the rest of the community to help them do so.

"It is only by personally understanding the issues that people living with dementia face, can we fully appreciate the challenges they have to overcome on a day-to-day basis.

“By just taking an hour of your time you can play a vital role in helping us create a dementia friendly society.”

Councillor Jenny Harrison, Oldham Council’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health, said: “A target has been set in Oldham to achieve 500 Dementia Friends by Christmas and this will be achieved through a united approach to provide free sessions to members of the public and groups of staff working in lots of organisations and businesses.

“It would be great to see by Christmas a large network of Dementia Friends who have a much better understanding of dementia. We want to get rid of this stigma that dementia is linked to old age – it isn’t.

“It’s a disease of the brain and it is not a natural ageing process or simply about losing your memory. There is more to the person than them having dementia.

“Having lots of Dementia Friends in Oldham will help people with dementia to carry on with activities and feel included in the community.

“Anyone can attend these sessions. So let’s all get involved and together we can support those with dementia to lead the best possible life.”

Majid Hussain, Governing Body lay member at NHS Oldham CCG said: “I really enjoyed the Dementia Friends session I took part in. 

“I now appreciate what it's like to live with dementia and that sometimes people with dementia need a bit of help from their friends to get by. Anybody can become a Dementia Friend.

“It’s helps you to be aware of the small things you can do that could make a big difference to people with the condition - even if it’s just showing them to the right bus or helping people to find things in a shop.”

All Governing Body members at the CCG will be taking part in a Dementia Friends session on October 2.

Members of the public, businesses or local organisations who want to find out more about the campaign and how to become a Dementia Friend in Oldham please contact Sue Neilson or Julie Eastham on 0161 622 6637 or 0161 622 6525 – or email: sue.neilson@nhs.net

You can find out more online at http://www.dementiafriends.org.uk/

There are sessions open to the public taking place on:

Friday, October 24 (10am) in Room 4M, Development Academy, Oldham Council Civic Centre. Rochdale Road Reception, Oldham, OL1 1NL.

Friday, November 21 (10am) in the Function Room, 1st Floor, Oldham Link Centre, 140 Union Street, Oldham, OL1 1DZ.

To book your place, please contact Elaine Machin on 0161 770 4550, or email elaine.machin@oldham.gov.uk. Bookings will be made on a first come first serve basis, so please book early to avoid disappointment.

Further dates will be available at a later date. Please check on the Oldham dementia web pages at www.oldham.gov.uk/dementia or http://www.dementiafriends.orh.uk/ for further details.

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