Those of you watching your TV tonight won't be able to miss our new advert marking the launch of a new national campaign on Dementia Friends as it gets broadcast across 40 channels simultaneously.
At the centre of the advert is Gina, a former nurse from Liverpool who is living with dementia; a fantastic character and great advocate for the way people with dementia can live well if they have the right support.
In my last blog I talked about my own experience of becoming a Dementia Friend, and it’s great to think that people across the country will be encouraged to get involved and gain the knowledge and understanding they need to support people with dementia in their communities.
Since the Dementia Friends campaign launched in 2013, an impressive half a million pledges have been made by individuals and companies for employees to become Dementia Friends. As PHE staff, we have also committed to doing the training ourselves.
Coinciding with the launch of the advert was the publication of a report compiled by the Centre for Economics and Business Research, which showed signs that we are already becoming a more dementia-friendly society. It is heartening to hear that most businesses have already provided or would consider providing a range of support to carers of someone living with dementia, with 18 per cent going as far as to consider paying for respite care. However, the report also highlighted the pressure faced by carers, finding that on average carers spend 28 hours a week looking after someone with dementia. Today I'm speaking at the State of Caring Conference held by Carers UK about our work programme at PHE and I continue to be impressed by the dedication of carers who face challenges on a daily basis.
Today is also a significant day for our work on equality and health inequality issues in dementia. I spent the morning chairing an event which brought PHE and other local and national statutory partners together with voluntary sector groups and leading researchers. We discussed how people from different groups or backgrounds can experience dementia in different ways, and how we can improve the support they receive. It was a lively and valuable discussion, which I hope went some way to gaining better agreement about what all partners can do to address these issues and what our priorities might be. I came out of the event ready for action and hope others felt equally inspired.
The Dementia Friends campaign will also have a part to play in this, raising awareness amongst communities where dementia may be less well understood. As the campaign evolves it will reach out to different communities in different ways so do keep in touch with it over the coming year.
As Gina explains “there is no getting away from the fact that living with my condition is hard but being surrounded by people who have a little understanding and awareness of what it’s like to live with dementia would make my day to day life easier.” We can all play our part and we have the opportunity to make a real difference for people with dementia and their carers. I hope you will join the campaign and become a Dementia Friend.
Cover photo is copyright Dementia Friends. Used with permission