What does it mean to be a Dementia Friendly City?

Councillor Karen Kilgour, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for health and social care
Councillor Karen Kilgour, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for health and social care

Newcastle City Council is inviting partners from across the city to explore what it means to be a Dementia Friendly City at its next Policy Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 12th February.

Hosted at Newcastle’s Great North Museum the session will celebrate the success of the city’s established Dementia Friendly Communities and explore what more can be done for the whole city to be Dementia Friendly.

Newcastle City Council are committed to the city becoming a Dementia Friendly City, a place where everyone considers what can be done to increase awareness around dementia, adapt services for people living with dementia and practical steps businesses can make to be accessible and inclusive.

It is estimated that 5,300 people aged 65+ are living with dementia across Newcastle and Gateshead, part of 850,000 people who have the condition across the UK – estimates show that dementia costs society around £26 billion per year in the UK, a figure that is set to rise as the population ages.

Newcastle City Council’s Policy Cabinet will celebrate the success across Newcastle of communities, organisations and businesses that are already taking big steps towards becoming Dementia Friendly and supporting the city-wide vision.

In the last 12 months Newcastle City Council has hosted a successful Dementia Action Week at the historic Grainger Market and has increased its dementia specific training and development programme for staff, working closely with UNISON to deliver the courses to specific council teams.

There has also been a new approach to specialist and supported housing, especially for people living with dementia. Custom built housing in Dinnington, Throckley and Walker offer bespoke assisted living solutions for people with dementia and specialist on-site support.

Jesmond and Gosforth are both established Dementia Friendly Communities, places where people with dementia are understood, respected and supported whilst feeling confident that they are contributing to community life.

Jesmond residents were the first community to work towards becoming dementia friendly in 2016, and they have delivered Dementia Friends sessions to over 400 people and have an active, passionate group of Dementia Champions. 22 organisations and businesses in Jesmond - that include coffee shops, opticians and supermarkets - have pledged their support and the community run library operates as a hub for the work as well as hosting dementia friendly activities.

Businesses across Newcastle have also stepped up to support the campaign, such as Tyneside Cinema which pioneered their Dementia Friendly Screenings - becoming one of the first cinemas in the country to offer this.

Councillor Karen Kilgour, Newcastle City Council cabinet member for health and social care said;

“I am pleased that this Policy Cabinet will bring together people from across the city to focus on how we can become a Dementia Friendly City.

“Living with dementia has a huge impact on both the person living with the condition and their family and carers. Caring for a family member with dementia can become a full-time role and it is vital that residents, organisations and services understand, support and consider dementia.

“We have already seen this approach have a positive impact in some communities and businesses in Newcastle and I am hoping the discussions at this Policy Cabinet can start the process of rolling this out across the city.

“I passionately believe that Newcastle will become a Dementia Friendly City.”

In December 2018 the city’s first Dementia Advice Centre launched in Brunswick Village providing effective, coordinated, community-based support for people living with dementia and their families.

Following on from the success of the 2018 Dementia Action Week activity at the Grainger Market Newcastle City Council has invited 20 partners to make use of space in the market to focus on individual aspects of living with dementia. Each month throughout 2019 will focus on a different theme including housing, keeping safe, help and support and future planning.

There will also be more support for communities across Newcastle to become Dementia Friendly, prompting changes at local levels that will help to shape the whole city and a partnership will be established to drive, develop and inspire volunteers to support people living with dementia, volunteers and social care staff.

The Policy Cabinet will take place on Tuesday 12th February from 4.30pm at the Great North Museum, Barras Bridge, Newcastle.