Dementia Awareness Week is a national campaign to raise understanding of the effect that living with the disease can have on people’s lives.
Dementia Awareness Week 2017 runs from 14 to 20 May and its theme this year is to ask people across the UK to unite against dementia. North Yorkshire County Council and its partners, including Selby District Council, are asking people to give their views on “Bring Me Sunshine’’, the draft dementia strategy for North Yorkshire.
“Bring Me Sunshine is based on the experiences of people living with dementia, their carers and health and social care experts,” said Richard Webb, the County Council’s Corporate Director for Health and Adult Services. “It describes the improvements the County Council and its partners want to make to dementia support services in North Yorkshire over the next five years.
“The draft strategy has been developed with the help of the Alzheimer’s Society together with the County Council’s dementia support service providers, Dementia Forward and Making Space. They were all part of the editorial group and were able to involve people living with dementia in its development.
“They also organised and contributed to the North Yorkshire Dementia Congress in October 2016. Bring Me Sunshine was the title of the congress and it was suggested by one of the county’s dementia singing groups. It symbolises the fact that, although living with dementia brings many challenges, it does not automatically have to stop people enjoying life.”
Bring Me Sunshine contains messages about what matters to people living with dementia. It also contains information about the number of people living with dementia in North Yorkshire, people living with young onset dementia (under 65) and people living with dementia and a learning disability.
It looks at what dementia support services are available now, the initiatives already under way to support people whose lives are affected by dementia and local success stories about improved services and support. Importantly, the strategy also looks at where support is not as good as it should be and the lessons that can be learned for the future.
The key themes, principles and priorities of Bring Me Sunshine include:
- challenging the stigma associated with dementia and raising awareness about it
- the importance of early diagnosis
- ensuring consistent care and support
- seeing the person, not the dementia
- supporting people living with a learning disability and dementia
- the value and importance of carers support
- planning for the future and dying well.
Janet Probert, North Yorkshire Health and Wellbeing Board sponsor for the Ageing Well work stream, said: “The Health and Wellbeing Board was delighted to receive a strategy built on significant engagement with people and their carers who have experience of living with dementia, which allows us to have an aspiration to bring sunshine across all our communities, improving the experiences of people living with dementia.”
Rick Sweeney, GP Governing Body Member for NHS Harrogate and Rural District CCG, said: “We are pleased to work with the County Council and partners in the development of a strategy which will support this integrated working. It is vital that Health, Social and Voluntary Services work closely together, to provide the best possible support to help the increasing numbers of people living with dementia, their families and their carers to live well.”
Gail Brown, Operations Manager, North Yorkshire Alzheimer’s Society, endorses that. “Being involved in the development of the North Yorkshire strategy clearly demonstrates how much we can achieve together when we are ‘United Against Dementia’,” he said.
Gill Collinson, Chief Nurse, Hambleton Richmondshire, Whitby CCG, said: “Dementia can be a frightening diagnosis for many. Bring Me Sunshine, the North Yorkshire strategy to improve awareness and services, really demonstrates the positive impact we can have for those with dementia and their carers if we all work together in partnership.”
Cath Magee, Area Manager, Making Space, said: “We take great pride in the role our organisation has played in being part of the NY Dementia Strategy. There is so much to do and it all feels achievable. All of our organisations will continue to work well in partnership, to serve people living with dementia and their loved ones in North Yorkshire. We look forward to it.”
Jill Quinn, CEO of Dementia Forward, said: “No one organisation can solve this growing problem. The key to providing the much needed support is partnership and working together.”
Find Bring Me Sunshine’ and details of the consultation – which runs until 23 June - Information about Dementia Awareness
The County Council is also working with partners to publish a new strategy in the summer which focuses on the health and wellbeing of carers. It will be an all-ages strategy, aimed at supporting carers to both continue caring and to have a life of their own. Three in five of us will be a carer at some point and almost everyone will know a family member, friend or colleague who is currently a carer, many of whom will be caring for someone with dementia. A consultation on the draft carers strategy will be launched mid-May.