Newcastle’s drive to turn itself into a dementia-friendly city has been gaining international attention.
Staff from Newcastle City Council, along with partners from across the city who are working to support people living with Dementia, recently welcomed a group of health and social care specialists from Frederiksberg, Denmark.
The five-strong Danish group came to learn about Newcastle’s approach to becoming dementia friendly, with a particular focus on the work of the Tyneside Cinema and the Jesmond Dementia Friendly Communities group.
As part of Newcastle’s ambition to be an age-friendly city Newcastle City Council focuses on key factors that can change the lives of residents. Dementia is an important aspect of this work, however more and more people aged 50 – 65 are being diagnosed with Dementia so the Dementia Friendly focus has become a full population based movement – this commitment was reinforced by Newcastle City Council who recently agreed a motion to become a Dementia Friendly Organisation.
The Danish visitors spent time with Jesmond Dementia Action Alliance, a group of volunteers who have been working to increase the understanding of dementia in their community. This work has included delivering information sessions to over 400 local people.
There was also a visit to the Alzheimer’s Society office at the Beacon. Here the Danish delegation learnt about work to recruit, train and support volunteers, as well as the provision of activities such as ‘Singing for the Brain’.
The group’s final visit was to the Tyneside Cinema on Pilgrim Street, Newcastle. The cinema has been running screenings aimed at meeting the needs of those with dementia.
The Tyneside Cinema has been working with partners to identify changes that can be made to make the venue more dementia friendly. Changes in signage, staff training and lighting have all been introduced to help those with dementia feel more comfortable.
The Danish group also participated in a vibrant discussion with a number of independent art and culture organisations, who are using art to both raise people’s awareness of dementia issues and to help those with dementia express themselves and develop skills.
Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for adults and health, Cllr Karen Kilgour, said, “I was thrilled we could share our successful approach to becoming a dementia-friendly city with our colleagues from Denmark.”
“The visit was a fantastic opportunity for us to celebrate the work happening across the city as we strive to become dementia friendly. It also provided us with the chance to learn from other professionals and pick up hints and tips from them.”
“Dementia can be an incredibly tricky illness to understand and Newcastle City Council and its partners are helping break down these barriers, develop the understanding of residents and businesses, and help people living with dementia and their carers feel safe and secure across the city.”
The Dementia Friends regional officer for the Alzheimer’s Society, Joe Kirwin, said,
“Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer, with someone developing it every three minutes and too many facing it alone.”
“An estimated 850,000 people across the UK have some form of dementia, including more than 3,000 in Newcastle and 35,000 in the north east as a whole.”
“This is why dementia-friendly initiatives are so important. Our ultimate goal is a world without dementia, but, realistically, that day is a long way off.”
“Until it comes, the Alzheimer’s Society will strive to create communities that are safe and inclusive for people living with the condition.”