The Selsey Dementia-Friendly Community Project is sponsored and overseen by Selsey Community Forum (Registered Charity No: 1156460) which can be contacted at Selsey Information Exchange, Penny Lane, 118 High Street, Selsey PO20 0QG.
Dementia is the result of damage to the brain which can be caused by a number of diseases, such as Alzheimer's, or a series of strokes. The symptoms of dementia depend on the particular disease and the affected parts of the brain - for that reason, people with dementia will be affected in different ways. However, the symptoms usually include: memory loss, misplacing things, problems with language, disorientation in time and place, and changes in personality. Dementia can strike anyone (including those pictured here) and is a wicked condition which can have a devastating impact on those affected, and particularly on their families and carers.
'So, what is dementia?'
'OK - but why do
we need a dementia-friendly community?'
It is estimated that there are 850,000 people with dementia in the UK, with numbers set to rise to over one million by 2025 and soar to two million by 2051. Selsey has its 'fair' share of those who are affected. It is important to understand that dementia can be frightening - it makes the outside world seem to be a hostile, difficult place to find your way around; town centres might be poorly signposted; you need to remember your PIN number to shop with a card; finding your way around on public transport might not be easy; going to hospital or falling ill can be particularly tough. You might be able to function reasonably well in your familiar home, but any new and strange environment can cause great distress. The result is often that people with dementia withdraw into themselves and into their homes - to become isolated from the community.
'Alright, then - but what
is a dementia-friendly community?'
A dementia-friendly community is made up of shop assistants, public service workers, faith groups, businesses, the police, fire and ambulance staff, bus and taxi drivers, neighbours, clubs and societies, community leaders and all other members of the community. It is about education, so that we can all understand a little more about dementia and can perhaps be more sympathetic to those affected. A dementia-friendly community is a place where people with dementia are treated with understanding and given support to enable them to live as independently as possible and to continue to be part of the community. It is not only the community and those with dementia that benefit - family carers find that the stress of looking after loved ones with dementia can be much reduced.
'So what happens next?'
Selsey's Forget-Me-Not Project aims to make the town one of the nearly 250 communities in the country which are seeking to become, or have already become, dementia-friendly communities. The Alzheimer's Society has been assigned by the government to take the lead in driving forward the concept of dementia-friendly communities. They have sponsored a British Standard containing a Code of Practice for the recognition of dementia-friendly communities in England. Selsey's Forget-Me-Not Project, established by Selsey Community Forum in response to prompting by statutory and voluntary sectors, has registered under this process and will be guided
by advice from the Alzheimer's Society. Selsey Dementia Action Alliance has now also been formed and registered with the National Dementia Action Alliance.