Harrogate Advertiser Series backs bid to make Harrogate dementia-friendly

Dementia Support Adviser Helen Bradley with Desmond Monks (86). Picture : Adrian Murray. (1403255AM2)
Dementia Support Adviser Helen Bradley with Desmond Monks (86). Picture : Adrian Murray. (1403255AM2)

Your Harrogate Advertiser Series is backing a bid to make Harrogate one of the UK’s most dementia-friendly towns.

Moves to transform the town into a dementia-friendly community are coming to fruition and we are supporting this crucial bid for understanding and acceptance.

NADV 1403255AM6 Dementia Forward. CEO of Dementia Forward Jill Quinn. (1403255AM6)

NADV 1403255AM6 Dementia Forward. CEO of Dementia Forward Jill Quinn. (1403255AM6)

Set in motion by charity Dementia Forward, a pilot education scheme rolled out to seven town businesses is now complete.

This comes ahead of training that will be made available to service providers next month, aimed at increasing understanding of the condition in the town and across the district.

In support of Dementia Forward and the businesses making the most of this opportunity, the ‘Advertiser Series is launching a campaign to call on everyone in the town to back the scheme.

Dementia Forward CEO Jill Quinn said: “In Dementia Forward, as an organisation, one of our big pushes is normal life. A lot of people go into a care home earlier than they need to and far too many people give up because this is a long illness. Because nobody else has got it moving in Harrogate yet we decided to bite the bullet because we have the skills to do it.

“We are so grateful that the Harrogate Advertiser Series knows that it can play a big part in helping to get this initiative moving.

“Two Advertiser journalists have agreed to receive the education training themselves so that they have insight and empathy and can be sure of passing on the right messages. We are so impressed that this has come as a request from the ‘Advertiser Series because they have realised the importance of this mission.”

Harrogate and Knaresborough MP Andrew Jones is supporting our campaign.

He said: “We have a good record on being dementia-friendly here in the Harrogate district but there is always more we could and should do. Local groups like Dementia Forward with whom I have worked are doing a sterling job promoting awareness of dementia issues and supporting those with dementia and their families.

“This initiative will be a great boost to their work.”

The intention of the free education is to allow people living with dementia to continue their life as they know it with the help of a more informed public.

And this comes with quite a pedigree, as the team at Dementia Forward are behind York’s dementia-friendly project ‘the city without walls’ which made York one of the first five cities in the UK to take up the challenge.

Rebecca Saltmer, conference and events sales coordinator at Holiday Inn Harrogate took part in the training.

She said: “The workshop was excellent and made us aware of the needs of people living with dementia, as working with someone with dementia isn’t necessarily a day to day occurrence.

“It was really interesting as I had no background knowledge of the condition and the workshop gave us a medical insight into what this debilitating condition does to the brain.

“All the team now feel confident in spotting the signs of dementia, which is so important for the Holiday Inn Harrogate as we want to be looked upon as a friendly and safe future venue for those that have this life altering condition.”

Moves to make dementia-friendly communities came right from the top with Prime Minister David Cameron’s invitation to create a society actively working to help people with dementia.

Now, Harrogate is getting on board with this central message and seven businesses in the town have already taken part in a pilot training scheme.

Travel consultant at Travel Talk Katherine Scott took part in this scheme. She said: “It was quite informative because perhaps what you perceive as the symptoms are actually a lot more complex.

“If Harrogate becomes dementia-friendly I think it would mean more people who rely on their carers or family members or stay indoors because they are scared to go out are more accepted.

“If people in business are welcoming people into their shops they can leave the house and lead more of an independent life - that is the key issue, that they have some independence and lead as much of a normal life as they can.”

As one of his chosen charities during his time in office, the Mayor of Harrogate Coun Jim Clark is also supporting Dementia Forward and the Harrogate Advertiser series’ campaign to make Harrogate dementia-friendly.

He said: “Though it does affect younger people, it is mainly older people it affects and with Harrogate and indeed North Yorkshire having an older population it is going to have a major impact.

“I see it from the point of view that being dementia friendly will not only help those living with it but will help businesses have them as customers rather than making it more difficult for them to shop and do business in the town. It is a win win situation.”

Next week: We kick-start our campaign by speaking to the businesses taking part.

Back our bid to make Harrogate a dementia-friendly community.

Email news@harrogateadvertiser.co.uk or call 01423 707526