Within Powys there are approximately 2400 people living with dementia, and, because of our ageing population, this figure is set to rise to 44% within the next 8 years. See how people living with dementia in Powys are being supported by their community and local services.
The films look at the drive and commitment of volunteers in Brecon who are making a difference for families, carers and individuals living with dementia. The Brecon Dementia Friendly Community group have brought together volunteers, faith groups, charities, schools, town and community councils and local service boards together to create Wales' first dementia friendly community.
In October 2014, Powys County Council pledged to help make Powys a dementia friendly county, a status officially recognised by the Alzheimer’s Society through its Dementia Friendly Communities programme.
The definition of a dementia friendly community is one in which people with dementia are empowered to have high aspirations and feel confident, knowing they can contribute and participate in activities that are meaningful to them.
A dementia friendly community should be a place where there is increased awareness that dementia touches the lives of many and so requires a community based touch.
Download our statement:
The list includes clinically approved sources of information about the experience of dementia, and practical guidance for people living with the condition. There are also some wonderful books from the ‘Pictures to Share’ series, designed to be accessible and entertaining for people in mid to late stages of dementia – they are lovely books for people to browse and reminisce with, and family and friends also find them useful as talking points and a great way to share and remember with friends and loved ones.
In Powys today, communities are pulling together to tackle the stigma around the disease by raising awareness through Dementia Friends sessions led by volunteer Dementia Friends Champions.
This involves giving people a greater understanding of dementia and showing them the importance of doing very simple and practical things to accommodate it in everyday life. In turn, this then gives those living with dementia as much independence and dignity as possible whilst supporting them and their carers to live well and contribute to the community.
Working with the Alzheimer’s Society, communities are taking major steps to become Dementia Friendly. A Dementia Friendly Community is made up of the whole community - shop assistants, public service workers, faith groups, businesses, police, fire and ambulance staff, bus drivers, school pupils, clubs and societies, and community leaders - people who are committed to working together to help those living with dementia to remain part of their community.
One town at the forefront of challenging the myths and stigma around the disease is Brecon.
In an initiative led by volunteers, Brecon is actively seeking to increase awareness and understanding, support and promote social inclusion, and most importantly give a voice to people with dementia and their carers so their needs can be fully recognized and the appropriate support offered.
On 14th August 2014, in recognition of the work taking place, Brecon received official 'Working to become Dementia Friendly' status from the Alzheimer's Society. It was the first community in Wales to be acknowledged in this way; a reflection of the community’s caring nature.
Karen Lawrence, Headteacher, explains her own experience of the illness with her nan, and the work the school is doing to support the local community and Trenewydd Residential Home that is just a stone’s throw away. Karen explains the impact that Joan Brown, a local Dementia Champion had on the school staff and pupils, and how it has empowered them not only to become dementia friends, but to become young ambassadors at other schools.
The school has raised awareness with pupils, parents, staff and governors to spread the message and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.
During the filming, Karen also commented:
“The emotional impact the training had on the adults was overwhelming, for me, I realised the mistakes I had made with my nan during her illness. Raising awareness takes away that fear by developing understanding, realising that the people we knew and loved are still there and can often be reached through their earliest memories.
“We only ask that everyone stops to think about dementia and how it affects everyone. Children have eagerly gone home after a session and told their parents about dementia explaining it using one of the analogies shared with them, so that even parents who haven't attended awareness sessions are involved."
"On visiting the residential home, children would patiently repeat three or four times who they were to the residents, or discuss how lovely a flower is over and over again because they understand dementia and how it affects someone."
“The unplanned but exceptional learning skills that the children are gaining is just inspiring, from year 2-6 there is knowledge and understanding of the disease. The children have already learnt so much from the intergenerational project - communication skills, problem solving, planning, teamwork, gardening skills, citizenship but above all a respect for our wonderful elderly population and all they can offer. Above all, to hear residents who usually say very little talking about gardening with their parents, or their own gardens, or teaching the children how to plant potatoes is priceless.
“Our visits to Trenewydd are filled with laughter, smiles and fun. Staff told us that the residents constantly ask when the children are coming next. There is a positive impact on wellbeing for residents, staff and pupils. On our last visit one of the residents commented that she had learnt so much from the children - I think it is very much vice versa and it is our privilege to be part of it.
“We are not trying to change the world, just to change the world for a few in a positive way.”
The message from the school is powerful and inspiring, and our second film will look at the wider community involved and those who have made this happen.