With eleven Dementia Friendly High Streets, over 450 of the county’s businesses and organisations signed up to the Hampshire Dementia Action Alliance – one of the largest and most diverse Alliances in the country – and 28 local Action Groups either already up and running or in the process of starting up, Hampshire has made significant progress towards becoming a dementia friendly county.
Launched two years ago, Hampshire County Council’s Dementia Friendly Hampshire programme began with the aim of making Hampshire a place where people with dementia can live a good life, feeling valued, safe and supported.
Working closely with leading local mental health charity, Andover Mind, the programme has launched a range of initiatives targeting both individuals and organisations.
In addition to the high streets in Fareham, Lyndhurst, Fleet, Romsey, Alton, Winchester, Eastleigh, Lymington, Milford-on-Sea, Basingstoke and Andover, the business and organisational consortium (Alliance) and action groups, 26 Ambassadors are actively using their influence and networks to engage local communities. Hundreds of awareness sessions have also been carried out, creating over 3,400 new Dementia Friends across the county.
Cllr Liz Fairhurst, Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Public Health explains: “At the start of the programme, when asked what would help most, people affected by dementia said ‘please make people aware of what dementia is and how they might help.’ I believe the past two years have seen a step change in the way dementia is viewed both across the county and nationally, and I am confident that given the passion with which the dementia friendly concept has been embraced, we will see further strides being made in the coming months and years.”
From the outset, the two-year programme was designed to become self sustaining, with local communities taking responsibility for continuing with dementia friendly initiatives in response to local need. The County Council is providing a grant to Andover Mind for a further year to ensure the programme structures are maintained, with a view to the formation of Dementia Friendly Hampshire as an independent charity that will be able to apply for funding in its own right.
With around 20,000 people currently living with dementia in Hampshire, and these numbers set to grow, the County Council, along with Hampshire’s five Clinical Commissioning Groups, continues to commission the Alzheimer’s Society and Andover Mind to deliver the county’s important Dementia Advisor Service, providing valuable support to those with a diagnosis of dementia.
Cllr Fairhurst adds: “Dementia will touch the lives of many us. The focus of the County Council’s work with Andover Mind over the past two years has been to put the emphasis on ‘living well’. There is significant support now available, both via Council commissioned services, as well as in local communities. Early diagnosis and support is key and I would encourage anyone who may be worried about their memory or think they may have dementia, to see their GP.”