We’re only a few weeks into the New Year but already local businesses across Mid and East Antrim have been learning what it takes to become dementia-friendly.
A dementia-friendly community is a city, town or village where people with dementia are understood, respected and supported.
The scheme is being rolled out by Mid and East Antrim Borough Council alongside the Alzheimer’s society and has already had great success in Larne and Carrickfergus with plans to expand across Ballymena in 2019.
Businesses have been upskilling staff to become more aware of dementia and learning the signs to recognise if someone they encounter may just need a little more time or support.
They’ve also been finding out how to make their business surroundings more supportive to people living with dementia, for example, certain carpet textures and colours, as well as noise levels and communication methods.
Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Award winner and Dementia Champion, Ald Gerardine Mulvenna, said: “Dementia-friendly communities are vital in helping people live well with dementia and remain a part of their community.
“We have already had success in Larne and Carrickfergus with a number of businesses taking part in training and the feedback was overwhelming. We now plan to roll the scheme out to Ballymena and can’t wait to see the results.”
“Council is fully committed to ensuring our older generations are welcomed, supported and respected.
“With an ageing population, our community plan outlines ways to ensure that services reflect this and this initiative is truly putting people first by educating everyone about Dementia.
“I would encourage all the businesses in Mid and East Antrim to get behind this scheme and take up the training opportunities we are rolling out alongside our charity partners.”
Nina Noddings, Dementia Friendly Communities Manager for Alzheimer’s Society in Northern Ireland, said: “Alzheimer’s Society is delighted to be working with Mid and East Antrim Council to encourage businesses to work towards becoming dementia friendly.
“A report we commissioned, ‘Building Dementia Friendly Communities: A priority for everyone’, revealed less than half of people living with dementia feel a part of the community.
“Becoming a dementia-friendly community doesn’t always mean a big investment. Often it is just about communities assessing the way they deliver services and changing the way they respond.
“There are over 350 dementia friendly communities across England, Wales and Northern Ireland where local businesses are committed to support their customers and employees affected by dementia.
“From the taxi driver to the hairdresser and the bus company to the newsagent, everyone can identify things they can do to support people with dementia to continue to do the things they want to.”
To date over 300 people from more than 100 businesses and organisations have attended dementia-friendly training workshops.
The next free training sessions will be shared on social media so follow the council channels on Facebook and Twitter to keep up to date.