Danish Delegation Discover Dementia Friendly Services

Members of the delegation, visiting from Denmark, visit the Beacon in Newcastle
Members of the delegation, visiting from Denmark, visit the Beacon in Newcastle

Staff from Newcastle City Council, along with partners from across the city who are working to support people living with Dementia, recently welcomed a group of health and social care specialists from Frederiksberg, Denmark.

The delegation of five staff came to learn about the city’s approach to becoming a Dementia Friendly City, with a specific focus on the work of Tyneside Cinema and the Jesmond Dementia Friendly Communities group.

As part of Newcastle’s ambition to be an age-friendly city Newcastle City Council focuses on key factors that can change the lives of residents. Dementia is an important aspect of this work, however more and more people aged 50 – 65 are being diagnosed with Dementia so the Dementia Friendly focus has become a full population based movement – this commitment was reinforced by Newcastle City Council who recently agreed a motion to become a Dementia Friendly Organisation.

The group spent time with Jesmond Dementia Action Alliance, a group of volunteers who have been leading the way in developing an understanding of Dementia across their community, including delivering Dementia Friends Information Sessions to over 400 people in the area.

They also visited the Alzheimer’s Society office at the Beacon to learn about their work, including services to recruit, train and support volunteers, including those delivering activities like “Singing for the Brain”. Alzheimer’s Society have played a pivotal role in supporting the Dementia Friends Initiative - a national campaign that trains and supports people to be more dementia aware.

The final visit was to Tyneside Cinema on Pilgrim Street in Newcastle, who have been running specific cinema screenings welcoming people with dementia. The cinema has worked closely with partners who have supported them to identify changes that can be made to make their cinema experience more dementia friendly, ensuring anyone living with dementia feels welcome in their venue. Changes have included signage, lighting and training their staff to be dementia aware. The afternoon also featured a vibrant discussion with a range of independent art and culture organisations who are utilising art to raise awareness of dementia, working with arts and culture organisations helps people living with dementia to express their views and develop skills.

Councillor Karen Kilgour, Cabinet member for adults and health said “I was thrilled we could share our successful approach to becoming a dementia friendly city with colleagues from Denmark.

The visit was a fantastic opportunity for us to celebrate the work happening across the city as we strive to become Dementia Friendly, it also provided us with the chance to learn from other professionals and pick up hints and tips from them.

I’d like to thank the partners who took the time to welcome the delegation and for sharing their experiences.

Dementia can be an incredibly tricky illness to understand and Newcastle City Council and its partners are helping to break down these barriers, develop understanding of residents and businesses and help people living with dementia and their carers feel safe and secure across the city.”

Joe Kirwin, Dementia Friends Regional Officer for Alzheimer’s Society, said: “Dementia is set to be the 21st century’s biggest killer, with someone developing it every three minutes and too many facing it alone.

“An estimated 850,000 people across the UK have a form of dementia, including more than 3,000 in Newcastle and 35,000 in the North East as a whole.

“This is why dementia friendly initiatives are so important. Our ultimate goal is a world without dementia but, realistically, that day is a long way off.

“Until it comes, Alzheimer’s Society will strive to create communities that are safe and inclusive for people living with the condition.”