Health professionals in North Kirklees sign up to become Dementia Friends

GP’s and other health professionals in North Kirklees have signed up to become Dementia Friends so that they can spot the signs of dementia as part of a commitment to raise awareness of the disease in the area.  All 29 GP practices in North Kirklees have now signed up to this initiative, as well as Curo Health Limited the federation for GP practices in North Kirklees.

It is estimated that dementia currently affects more than 2,022 people in North Kirklees, with many more undiagnosed. This figure is expected to rise to more than 2,548 by 2025.

Dementia Friends learn a little bit about what it’s like to live with dementia and turn that understanding into action. Representatives from GP practices and other healthcare professionals in North Kirklees have attended information sessions in partnership with the Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance.  The Alliance was formed with the aim to involve as many people as possible to secure a “Kinder Kirklees” for those people living with dementia.  

Last month, NHS North Kirklees Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) also received an award from the Alliance recognising them as a membership organisation working towards becoming dementia friendly.

To become a friend you just need to watch a short video, it’s less than 5 minutes long, or join an information session in your area.  The Creative Arts Hub in Mirfield run a Dementia Friends session every month on a Saturday, which is open for anyone who may be interested to attend, and lasts approximately an hour.  Book on at www.creativeartshub.org.uk/events.html.

There are also monthly dementia drop in sessions held at Mirfield Library for anyone who is worried about their memory, which are run by Making Space supported by Kirklees Council and Mirfield Health Centre.

The Alliance, Creative Arts Hub and Mirfield Health Centre are working towards Mirfield becoming a Dementia Friendly Community – the first in North Kirklees.

The objectives of the dementia awareness sessions are to provide people with a better understanding of dementia, enabling them to better understand the needs of those living with the disease.  The sessions also offers attendees an insight into the everyday experience of dementia, looking at signs, symptoms and the potential impact of the disease on family, friends and close ones.  Dementia Friends will also be equipped with the information to signpost people to get the most appropriate advice and support.

Elaine Bostock, Project Coordinator, Kirklees Dementia Action Alliance said: “We are delighted to be working with NHS North Kirklees CCG and the 29 Practices that have submitted action plans to become members of the local Alliance.  By becoming members of the Alliance each Practice has set out how they will be working towards the outcomes in the National Dementia Declaration for England by raising awareness and improving the lives of local people living with dementia.”

Elaine added; “With a partnership approach alongside such key stakeholders we can work in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia, their families and carers across Kirklees.  As members of the Alliance each practice will be publicly recognised for their work towards becoming dementia friendly.  A process which is built around criteria which has been developed based on what we know is important to people living with dementia.”

Local health professionals are keen to raise awareness of the disease, to ensure that signs of dementia are recognised earlier leading to an early diagnosis.  An early diagnosis means that an appropriate and tailored package of care can be put in place quickly for the patient and their family or carers.

Dr Andrew Cameron, GP governing body member and dementia lead for NHS North Kirklees CCG, said: “We are committed to raising people’s awareness of dementia, which is not a natural part of ageing. Dementia is a term used for a number of conditions where patients have problems with their short or long term memory, have difficulties with thinking, problem solving or language which become worse over time significantly affecting them in their daily lives.

“It is vital that all staff at GP practices can spot the early signs of dementia either in a work environment, in members of their own families or in their local community, as well as offer people advice and support and most of all raise awareness of the condition. Anyone can become a Dementia Friend.”

For more information, or if you would like to become a Dementia Friend visit the Alzheimer’s Society web pages at http://www.alzheimers.org.uk. If you or a member of your family, carer or friend has any concerns about someone with memory problems please speak to your GP in the first instance.

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