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Improving the quality of life for those living with dementia in Knowsley

by Lisa Bennett

A new strategy outlining how the council, partners, residents and businesses will all work together to achieve a Dementia Friendly borough by 2020 has been approved.

Dementia describes a set of symptoms which include loss of memory, mood changes and problems with communicating and reasoning. Dementia-friendly communities are areas where people living with dementia are understood, respected, supported and confident that they can contribute to community life and there are many small changes that we can make which can make a big difference to those living with dementia.  Ultimately, dementia friendly communities aim to improve the quality of life for people living with dementia.

Supporting those with dementia

Dementia is becoming increasingly prevalent in our local communities. Currently around 1,700 residents in Knowsley are living with dementia and this is set to increase significantly in the future – it is estimated that by 2030 the number of people aged 65 and over living with dementia in Knowsley will increase by 33%. Therefore it’s important that local communities are set up in a way that supports residents who are living with dementia, along with their families and carers.

The strategy has been developed using the Knowsley Better Together principles – working in partnership with other organisations to deliver more for local people and co-producing the strategy with local people who are living with dementia, and their families / carers to ensure it addresses the issues that matter to them.

Dementia-friendly borough

Based on feedback from residents and key partner organisations, five priorities were identified to drive the strategy’s vision – working towards being dementia-friendly by 2020. The priorities are:-

  • Challenge stigma and build awareness
  • Ensure that our communities are committed to supporting people with dementia to engage and live well in their community
  • Empower people with dementia to have a voice in shaping their community
  • Provide community based solutions that help to maintain independence
  • Ensure early diagnosis, personalised and integrated care

Councillor Sean Donnelly, Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care, said:

“We know that by working better together, more can be achieved. The views of our residents with dementia have been at the heart of the strategy’s development.  Everyone can play their part – from having a better understanding of what dementia is, considering becoming a Dementia Friend and ensuring signage and shops / building layouts are dementia friendly. In addition, leading healthier lifestyles can reduce your risk of being diagnosed with dementia. I look forward to seeing this strategy progress over the next two years for the benefit of our residents.”

Progress against the actions identified in the Dementia Friendly Strategy for 2018-2020 will be reviewed by Knowsley’s dementia Friendly Strategy Development Group – consisting of representatives from Knowsley Council, Merseyside Police, Knowsley Clinical Commissioning Group, Knowsley Chamber of Commerce, Merseytravel, First Ark, Healthwatch, Merseyside Fire and Rescue and Knowsley Community and Voluntary Services (KCVS). A local dementia service, Sight and Mind, was also key to the development of the strategy.

Accessing support

In Knowsley, a range of initiatives and support is already available for people living with dementia and their carers. There are more than 11,000 ‘Dementia Friends’ in the borough  who have a better understanding of dementia who, equipped with this knowledge, are in a position to do small things to help others – find out more about becoming a Dementia Friend on The Alzheimer’s Society website.

In addition, there is a range of respite provision in the community, support groups and six extra care schemes which enabling people to live independently with support – all of this, and more, is available on the Live Well Directory – www.thelivewelldirectory.com