I attended a meeting of the Pan-London Dementia Action Alliance (DAA) this week. Hosted by Alzheimer’s Society, the focus was on creating dementia friendly communities within London. The organisations represented – including London Fire Brigade, Metropolitan Police, Notting Hill Genesis Housing, Age UK London, Transport for London, Health Innovation Network, NHS England Dementia Clinical Network, Central London Community Healthcare NHS Trust – were asked to consider how they could contribute. New draft objectives were distributed founded on a collective agreement that member organisations would use their influence to make London dementia friendly by 2020.

The agenda for this meeting was put together to build on the outcomes from the ‘Dementia Friendly Summit’ that was held at City Hall, the home of the Greater London Assembly, during Dementia Action Week in May this year. At this event, the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, signed a pledge to make the whole of London dementia friendly, following feedback received from a consultation exercise with hundreds of people living with dementia, and their families and supporters, from across Greater London.

The pledge sets out the intention that people affected by dementia will:

•    Travel to where they want to go safely
•    Live somewhere they feel supported, understood and included in community life
•    Receive the help they need to access quality health, care and support services when and
where they require it
•    Be able to participate in all that London has to offer in arts, culture and leisure
•    Feel confident to visit local high streets and town centres

This initiative builds on the ‘Dementia Friends’ movement which has seen 120,000 people across London attend a dementia information session and register to become a Dementia Friend. The Alzheimer’s Society has an ambition to increase this number to 500,00 as well as to create 2,000 dementia friendly organisations (currently there are 700) and to encourage every London borough to work towards becoming dementia-friendly through the Dementia Friendly Communities Recognition Process.

For this process to be real and have the impact intended, people with dementia and family carers will need to be meaningfully involved. The Pan-London DAA will have a role to play in making sure this happens, along with the numerous borough based DAAs.

To bring about the action called for at the London Dementia Summit, the Pan-London DAA will be establishing sub-groups to focus on five key activity areas: Housing, Transport, Businesses & Retail, Health & Social Care and Civil Society. In this way, it is anticipated, actions can be spread across all sectors and cascaded into grassroots communities.

This all bodes well.

Sadiq Khan said of the Dementia Friendly London pledge:

I’ve become a Dementia Friend alongside 150 other City Hall staff. Transport for London has integrated dementia awareness into its equalities training programme and will roll out Dementia Friends sessions across its entire workforce. And all Team London volunteers for the Euro 2020 championships will be Dementia Friends too. The sky’s the limit and we can all take action. We all have a role to play to ensure that people affected by dementia in London – no matter who they are or where they live – are able to live well with the condition and enjoy all our vibrant city has to offer.

Watch this space! Unforgettable will be involved through the Pan-London Dementia Action Alliance, and, beyond London, Unforgettable will contribute to dementia awareness raising and to influencing strategists and decision-makers, as a member of the national Dementia Action Alliance.

The subject of ‘dementia friendly communities’ links well with the theme of one of my recent blogs, when I wrote about my father’s experience of using his local bus service. I received a number of responses to this blog, including one reader who told me about this positive experience that she had witnessed:

I was in my local building society recently and witnessed a wonderful piece of service from one of their employees. We are very fortunate in this branch that, not only do we have regular staff working the counters – but they don’t sit behind glass. I live in a small town and so there is the opportunity for businesses etc to build good relationships with their regular customers. The lady in front of me went to the counter and I quickly realised she very likely had dementia (my mother has it and I am much more open to recognising the symptoms now). The lady asked the member of staff whether she had drawn out money the day before and the employee said she would check and asked for her card. The lady couldn’t find her card and asked whether she would normally be asked to present it. The employee suggested the place that the lady would normally keep it – she was right! The poor lady looked a little flustered, but the wonderful employee said to her not to worry at all and that this is the sort of thing she was there for and that they (her and the lady) were a “good team”. I felt really emotional that such kindness and tact were shown, I have no idea if she is a dementia friend, or whether they building society are classified as “dementia friendly”, but they should be!! I didn’t have an opportunity to say anything to her, as I didn’t get to her counter. But your request was timely, and I thought I would share the story.

We are keen to know if you have been involved with local initiatives to bring about dementia support and friendliness in your local community. Are you a member of your local Dementia Action Alliance? Please tell us about positive actions your local DAA is taking to help people with dementia to feel included and supported and have a sense of purpose and contribution.

You can contact me at barbara@liftedcare.com

For more information about the Pan-London Dementia Action Alliance, and to get involved, contact Esther Watts esther.watts@alzheimers.org.uk

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