Dementia United: The journey continues

Greater Manchester’s aims to be the best place in the world to live with dementia received a boost as a number of successes were celebrated last week.

The one-year anniversary of the Dementia United (DU) programme ‘soft launch’ was marked in an event where examples of the excellent work that has taken place during 2015 and 2016 were highlighted.

People living with dementia joined health and social care professionals, academic professional and representatives from housing providers and digital firms as well as many others involved in working towards the shared ambition.

The celebration, organised by Haelo, was held at the Lowry on Friday 11 November and hosted by Rt. Hon Hazel Blears. Hazel, introducing the event, said: “Dementia United came about because where we are is not good enough and people are struggling with issues where the system is not joined up.

“Getting that diagnosis is one of the most devastating things in your life. My mum died two years ago and we kept her at home to the very last day so we saw what worked and what didn’t work.

“To achieve our ambition, you need to disrupt the system so you need some great collaborators and the last year has been brilliant – we’ve built a coalition of support.”

Dementia United Hazel Blears

Haelo Chief Executive Maxine Power explained progress in Greater Manchester (GM) so far and told how an important step had been beginning to ask those living with dementia what life was like for them and what they needed.

She also emphasised the opportunity that devolution gives GM to have more authority and autonomy over how it provides services to support people with dementia, their families and carers.

Maxine highlighted the variation in diagnosis of dementia in the 10 localities of GM along with a number of impactful messages from the data including;– if every area performed at the same rate as the best in relation to admission rates of those people with dementia, it would mean 755 fewer people coming into hospital

She said: “It is not a stationary issue because we have more older people and they are living longer with more chronic conditions.

“Most of what we’re hearing today is going to cost us nothing – it’s about the human interactions and how people make us feel rather than what they do. Dementia United is a listening campaign that takes action, we have got to listen with intent.”

Other speakers included Anthony Hassall, Chief Accountable Officer at Salford Clinical Commissioning Group, who talked about the GM standards that have been drawn up and George McNamara, Head of Policy & Public Affairs, from Alzheimer’s Society, who talked about future priorities such as trying to reduce the risk of people developing dementia through encouraging different lifestyle choices earlier in life.

A section of the afternoon’s proceedings was given over to looking at how technology may help in the future, with Salix Homes’ Jonathan Drake, Service Director of Business Development, showing how digital sensors placed in the home may detect signals of someone developing dementia while Jon Corner, Chief Executive from The Landing, talked about technology that people already have being better used to improve communication and connectivity.

Some of the stand out moments from the event were showcases from individual areas of GM – Tameside, Wigan and Salford – to demonstrate the tangible work that has taken place over the last year and the difference it has made to people’s lives.

Two powerful personal accounts were given to give insights into the experience of someone living with dementia and from the family’s perspective. Maria Walsh, who is living with the condition, explained her life following diagnosis and her nine ideas for a better life with the condition.

Over the next few weeks, we will be sharing more details of the good work that was showcased at the event.

Check back on the website for updates and case studies from the event, coming soon.

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