There are currently around 850, 000 people living with Dementia in the UK. Dementia knows no boundaries, no age limits, no race, and no gender. The youngest person to ever be diagnosed with Dementia in the UK was 6… Yes! 6 years old!
Whilst on my placement with Radius Housing, at the request of John McLean, Radius’ CEO, I teamed up with Care Services Manager Deirdre Carr, to take the lead on making Holywood a Dementia Friendly Community. It was an absolute pleasure to be asked to work on this project as it is something I am particularly passionate about and it a subject very close to my heart.
Deirdre Carr, Care Services Manager, and I worked alongside Dementia NI and the Alzheimer’s Society to create a timeline plan; our first step was to get all the businesses in Holywood involved and on board – who wouldn’t jump at the chance to be on board with such a worthy local project? After hand delivering 86 letters inviting the businesses to a short information session only 3 businesses turned up! BUT we didn’t let that deter us, we picked ourselves up, dust ourselves down and continued to work hard.
We were kindly welcomed to the Dementia NI empowerment group where we met with people living with Dementia. This was vital to kick start our Dementia Friendly Community as we were getting invaluable advice about what people living with Dementia wanted to see in their community.
The first suggestion was two different types of coffee mornings – one was a memory café and the other a careers support coffee morning. We liaised with the local library and they were very accommodating allowing us to hold the memory Café once a month in their meeting room. The Yard invited us to use their upstairs area for the careers support coffee morning. The feedback we received from both coffee mornings was over-whelming, so much so there is now 2 memory cafes a month – still receiving great support! The second suggestion was a monthly newsletter. Each month we published a newsletter to create awareness; every month the newsletter had a calendar of events, a map of Holywood showing where each event was and information about Dementia. We also created a social media account and got posters printed to create awareness and tackle the stigma attached to Dementia.
Deirdre and I then went on to complete our Dementia Champion training – this course allows us to train others to become Dementia Friends and be more understanding of those living with Dementia. We started by training staff in-house the first of which was the tele-care staff and then moved into the wider community where we trained businesses within Holywood, the career support group and primary school pupils. At present we are working to train all of the Ards and North Down Borough Council.
Dementia Awareness week
Having raised awareness and getting ‘Dementia Friendly Holywood’ up and running we decided it was time for an Official Launch. As if organising an official Launch wasn’t enough work, we decided to run an event every single day that week, and what better week then Dementia Awareness Week – we held Afternoon Tea, a Memory Walk and a Quiz to name but a few. The launch event was well support and many local businesses hosted a stall, we had the local councilor attend and the Mayor also came to preside the official launch.
Given the amount of time and effort put in by everyone we were absolutely delighted to learn that we had been nominated for 4 different awards with the Alzheimer’s Society in November this year.
- Dementia Community of the Year (Dementia Friendly Holywood, runner up)
- Dementia Partnership of the Year (Dementia Friendly Holywood, winner)
- Dementia Champion of the Year (Jenny Martin, runner up)
- Dementia Young Person of the Year (Jenny Martin, Winner)
Having now completed my placement year with Radius Housing I still continue to help out with activities for Dementia Friendly Holywood and assist with the creation of Dementia Friendly Peninsula and Dementia Friendly Carrick.
Jenny Martin is a final year BSc student in Communication, Advertising and Marketing at Ulster University, Jordanstown. You can follow her on Twitter @Jennymartin95 or on Facebook: /jenny.martin.12979431