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Dementia Friends pledge

Dementia Friends film image

by Jeremy Peters

NHS Property Services is joining forces with Public Health England and the Alzheimer’s Society in a national campaign for a more dementia friendly society.

The company, which owns and runs NHS premises across England, such as community hospitals, health centres and doctors’ surgeries, is urging all staff to sign up as Dementia Friends so that they can offer care and support to the growing numbers of people affected by the condition.

People with dementia want to carry on going about their daily lives and feeling included in their local community, but they sometimes need a helping hand to do so. Dementia Friends learn some key insights on what it’s like to live with dementia so they can turn that understanding into action in their everyday lives. This could be helping someone find their way or being patient in a queue if someone with dementia is taking longer to understand. Every action counts.

There are currently 700,000 people in England who have dementia and many carers who need support in the community and workplace. dementia-friends-logo

Simon Holden, Chief Executive at NHS Property Services, said: “I am proud to support this crucial campaign so that our staff can provide better care and understanding to the many people affected by dementia who visit our buildings every day.
“There are many small things that we can do to help, starting with being more aware of the signs of dementia and the common problems suffered by those who live with the disease.

“I am personally urging all our staff to watch the short, powerful film that helps anyone to be a Dementia Friend at work and in their local communities. Over time I would like us to have a network of Dementia Champions. This will help us beat the stigma and suffering of dementia both in our NHS premises and across the communities we serve.”

Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, said: “Dementia isn’t just a health condition – it attacks the fabric of our society and can take a huge toll on the families and friends of those affected by the disease. I am urging everyone – families, communities and businesses to come together to ensure that people with dementia can continue to live fulfilling and rewarding lives.”

Duncan Selbie, Chief Executive of Public Health England, said: “Our research shows that there is a real public desire to do more to help people with dementia live well in society. This campaign will help people understand the issues faced and give them the information they need to support people in their community with dementia. Businesses can encourage staff to become Dementia Friends through a suite of online videos, addressing the common challenges faced by customers with dementia, such as paying for goods or filling in forms. It is hoped this new tool will help businesses play their part in creating a dementia friendly society, and that by better understanding the condition they can adapt their businesses and thrive.”

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive of Alzheimer’s Society said: “Dementia is one of the biggest health crises facing the UK with 225,000 people developing dementia in the UK every year. Through Dementia Friends, we can all understand a bit more about what it is like to live with dementia and the small things people can do to help those with the condition. This commitment by NHS Property Services to help their staff understand more about dementia will bring us a step closer to a dementia friendly society.”

The online film and supporting materials will increase staff awareness of dementia and the role they can play in enhancing the lives of patients and their families with some very simple guidance including:

  • How mirrors and shiny surfaces can cause confusion
  • How to give clear guidance over the phone
  • How to help give directions and advice
  • How to help a person with dementia fill in a form

The initiative forms part of the Prime Minister’s Challenge on Dementia, and builds on commitments declared at the 2013 G8 Dementia Summit, which included a call to improve the quality of life for people living with the disease.

It is easy to become a Dementia Friend by watching a short online film, which explains what dementia is, how it affects individuals and what people can do to help those living with the disease. Then simply register in order to receive a Dementia Friends badge (to show support), and ‘Little Book Of Friendship’, which includes further ideas and tips on how to help people with dementia. Alternatively, people can attend a face-to-face awareness session run by Alzheimer’s Society in their area.

To become a Dementia Friend, visit the Dementia Friends website. The full film of ‘With A Little Help From My Friends’ is available to view on the site.

Dementia Friends is an Alzheimer’s Society initiative funded by the Cabinet Office and Department of Health with collaboration from Public Health England. Anybody can become a Dementia Friend. It’s about understanding a bit more about dementia and the small things you can do to help people with the condition. www.dementiafriends.org.uk

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Notes to editors

  1. NHS Property Services was established on 1 April 2013 and took over the running of some 4,000 NHS properties previously owned by primary care trusts and strategic health authorities. This equates to around 10 per cent of the NHS estate. We employ some 3,000 staff in NHS premises across the country.
  2. The company has one of the largest property portfolios in Europe, worth around £3 billion, and works in partnership with NHS organisations to create safe, efficient, sustainable and modern healthcare and working environments.
  3. For more information on NHS Property Services, contact Gillian Humphrey on 01823 361365 or customer.service@property.nhs.uk
  4. Follow and engage with us on Twitter @NHSProperty
  5. The Dementia Friends campaign press office is on 020 3003 6502 or Alzheimer’s Society’s Press Office on press@alzheimers.org.uk or 0207 423 3595.
  6. For more information on becoming a Dementia Friend, visit the Dementia Friends website.
  7. Public Health England’s mission is to protect and improve the nation’s health and to address inequalities through working with national and local government, the NHS, industry and the voluntary and community sector. PHE is an operationally autonomous executive agency of the Department of Health. www.gov.uk/phe Follow them on Twitter @PHE_uk
  8. Alzheimer’s Society is the UK’s leading support and research charity for people with dementia, their families and carers. It provides information and support to people with any form of dementia and their carers through its publications, National Dementia Helpline, website, and more than 2,000 local services. It campaigns for better quality of life for people with dementia and greater understanding of dementia. It also funds an innovative programme of medical and social research into the cause, cure and prevention of dementia and the care people receive.