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The number of people in Wales with dementia is forecast to double in the next 40 years. This, and a recognition that society could do more to support people to live with the condition, lies behind moves to change how dementia is addressed.
Delegates who attended a seminar jointly organised by the Bevan Foundation and Joseph Rowntree Foundation heard first-hand about what these changes mean in practice.
Carol Mooney from the Welsh Government’s Mental Health & Vulnerable Groups Division started the day outlining the action already being taken to improve services and quality of life for people with dementia. Rob Barnett then talked powerfully about his experiences of living with the condition. He stressed the social difficulties he encountered in his everyday life. Philly Hare of JRF described the community-based action they were developing in York, from clear signage and landmarks help people to find their way to training for police, shop workers and others in understanding and dealing with people with dementia.
Nick Andrews, of Swansea City and County Council, inspired delegates with his focus on the “assets” offered by people with dementia and the need to view care as a reciprocal relationship. Changing the ethos of care can transform both residential and domiciliary care services, he said.
A lively debate followed, with panellists Prof Judith Phillips (Swansea University and OPAN), Huw Evans (Alzhiemer’s Society Cymru) and Older People’s Commissioner, Sarah Rochira.
Feedback from delegates was very positive – ‘The people were passionate and inspiring’ said one delegate while another highlighted the ‘good speakers and time for debate’.