#STILLME dementia campaign launch

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A new dementia campaign #STILLME was launched yesterday [Tuesday 20 September] to raise awareness of the signs of dementia, and to reduce stigma and fear about the condition.

The campaign features local people living with a dementia talking about how their condition affects them. The first phase of the campaign will run until the end of October and highlights the ways in which we can support and be more inclusive of a person living with dementia. The second phase will run throughout December and January and will focus on possible signs of dementia and the benefits of a timely diagnosis.

Eleanor Ross, Nurse Consultant at Public Health Agency (PHA), said: “Dementia can happen to anyone and sadly there is no cure. People with dementia may feel isolated and alone. People can also find it difficult to talk about it when they think that they, or someone close to them, may have dementia. With an ageing population, dementia is becoming a bigger issue for society, so it is important that we look at how we can raise awareness about the condition and consider how we as a community respond to it.”

In 2014, the Delivering Social Change Dementia Signature Project (DSCDSP) was launched by the Department of the Executive to transform the commissioning, design and delivery of dementia services for people in Northern Ireland and to improve the quality of care and support for people living with dementia. The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and the PHA have been tasked with jointly taking forward this work. The #STILLME campaign is the latest development from the DSCDSP.

Eleanor continued: “We believe that life doesn't end when dementia begins, and would encourage people to open up about worries they might have about their memory and to seek help as soon as possible.

“By talking openly about dementia and its impact on daily life, people with dementia, family members and carers can begin to access the practical help and support available. Timely diagnosis allows people to receive treatment and care to enable them to live independent and fulfilling lives. Early diagnosis and support also enable people to plan for the future and to make their own decisions about their care.”

Seamus McErlean, Commissioning Lead for Older People and Adult Services at the HSCB, said: “Often people are reluctant to seek help with memory problems as they feel that nothing can be done. However, recent investments in dementia services are making improvements to the care and support that people with dementia and their carers can expect to receive. The DSCDSP has enabled organisations from across the statutory, voluntary and independent health and social care sectors to work with local businesses to provide information and training about dementia. Innovative and flexible carer support schemes have allowed carers to be supported to continue to provide care to their loved ones in their own homes for as long as it is safe to do so and in the interests of everyone concerned.

“The project will also provide bespoke Dementia Champion training to 300 health and social care staff and specialist training on delirium, cognitive assessment and rehabilitation to improve services for people living with dementia. It is vital therefore that we encourage people to open up and have the confidence to ask for help.” 

For more information on dementia see https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/dementia

If you, or a member of your family, have concerns about dementia, visit www.alzheimers.org.uk  or call the Alzheimer's Society Dementia Helpline on 0300 222 1122 which can provide information, support, guidance and signposting to other appropriate organisations.