Bristol City Council is shining a light on living well with dementia during the national awareness week (16 – 22 May) organised by the Alzheimer’s society.
With the number of people living with the disease set to rise over the next two decades, the council and partners are continuing their work together under the Dementia Inclusion Programme to make city life more accessible.
Marvin Rees, Mayor of Bristol, said:
“Making Bristol better for people affected by dementia is part of developing a city where everyone can thrive and live full lives. Part of achieving this means helping people to stay connected to their communities, families and friends. By becoming more aware of dementia and learning about the simple things anyone can do to make Bristol more inclusive, we can all play a part in making Bristol a dementia friendly city.”
Bristol has a pioneering scheme making dementia diagnosis and access to support easier. Each GP surgery works with a dementia navigator, part of Bristol CCG’s Dementia Wellbeing Service, to help people access the right support at the right time. Community services are a vital part of the support network in Bristol and across the city a vast amount of work is taking place to improve access for everyone.
Becky Pollard, Bristol City Council’s director of public health, said:
“Life doesn’t end when dementia begins. If you or a family member have recently been diagnosed it’s important to know that it’s still possible to live well and contribute to society. Together with our partner organisations we’re working towards creating a city where people with any level of dementia can continue living the way they want to. Being mentally and physically active and having access to the same opportunities as others is a key part of this, so we’re looking at ways to make facilities accessible to all.
“It’s important to remember that dementia is not an inevitable part of ageing and lifestyle plays a part. You can reduce your risk by not smoking, avoiding harmful drinking, eating well and taking exercise.”
The council’s public health team along with Hengrove and Easton Leisure Centres are working together on a project supported by the Amateur Swimming Association to make leisure centres, especially swimming, more dementia friendly. This involves all the staff undergoing training with St Monica’s Trust, changing signage and offering specific time slots for people with dementia. The ambition is to see all of Bristol’s swimming pools become dementia friendly in the next two years.
Cameron Bate, General Manager at Easton Leisure Centre, said:
“We pride ourselves on being a welcoming, community-orientated leisure centre and we want people with dementia to feel comfortable here, alongside everyone else. Ensuring everyone can enjoy swimming here is really important, which is why we’ve been working to make the centre dementia friendly.”
Other projects designed for people with dementia include Growing Support, a social enterprise running gardening projects in the city. The Bristol Dementia Action Alliance delivers training to many different people about how to be more dementia friendly. Training has been delivered locally to businesses, schools, care homes, faith groups, charities and children’s organisations amongst others.
There are lots of ways the public can help too. A new volunteer buddy scheme, Active Together for Dementia, is also being developed by Voscur with support from public health. A recruitment drive for volunteers will launch soon, calling for people who can help individuals get out and about and take part in community and social activities.
To get involved today, sign up as Dementia Friend by attending a free session run by volunteers trained by the Alzheimer’s Society. Training only takes an hour, and provides information and advice about the small things everyone can do to improve life for people living with the disease.
If you, or someone you know, is worried about dementia, call the National Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Find out more information about the Voscur volunteering scheme, and visit the Dementia Health Integration Team's pages to find out how they work towards improving dementia services, care and quality of life for people in Bristol and South Gloucestershire.