Dementia Support – West Briton column 27 March 2014

This year has seen a number of great examples of how the outstanding generosity of local people, combined with dedicated campaigning, can make a real difference to people living with health problems in Cornwall.

In 2013 I was pleased to help the Cornwall branch of Dementia UK to launch a campaign to bring Admiral Nurses to Cornwall.  Admiral Nurses are professionals trained in providing specialised dementia care who work to support families living with dementia, helping them to secure the care they need.  This specialist help can make all the difference to people suffering from dementia and for loved ones looking after them.  Dementia UK’s campaign, headed up by Falmouth resident Lisa Dann, has made great progress in raising the funds needed and I am delighted to report that Admiral Nurses are now out and about working in Cornwall.  In a unique partnership with Cornwall Care, the Admiral nursing team, with all our support, is set to grow and provide their invaluable service to more people across Cornwall.

This is just one example of local people coming together to tackle this most cruelest of conditions.  Last year Falmouth became one of the UK’s first ‘dementia friendly’ communities with the launch of the Falmouth Dementia Action Alliance.  The Alliance has seen a range of local businesses, groups, public services and individuals affected by dementia come together to work towards making the town an easier place for people living with dementia.  These efforts have been led by two other inspirational local residents Bob and Topes Bridges, who have for years been involved with the Falmouth Memory Café, a safe and friendly space for people living with dementia and their carers.

The trailblazing work of the Falmouth team has been joined in Truro, where a Truro Dementia Alliance has been formed with support from the Alzheimer’s Society and Truro’s Town Clerk, Roger Gazzard.  Launched last Thursday with the support of dementia champions, members of the Truro Lions Club, and fellow Dementia Alliances, the Truro Alliance will help to make Truro a better place for people living with dementia and those caring for them.

It is great to see Cornwall responding so brilliantly to the Prime Minister’s call in March 2012 for an “all out fight back against dementia”.  The Government is upholding its own commitment to be at the forefront of this fight, doubling the funding supporting medical research into treating and eventually curing dementia and legislating for new rights and support for carers as part of the pioneering Care Bill.

Further to this, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has committed to invest £90 million in boosting diagnosis rates for people affected by dementia.  Reducing delays in assessments as early diagnosis can make all the difference in the management of the condition, and can secure a better quality of life for those affected.

Whilst this is a good start there is still much more to be done and I will continue to lobby for more support from Ministers for local dementia patients and their families.