Tower Hamlets announces commitment to become a Dementia Friendly Community.

Tower Hamlets has announced its pledge to become a Dementia Friendly Community.

On 19 September, Tower Hamlets Council, Alzheimer’s Society and Tower Hamlets Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), hosted the borough’s first dementia conference – One Tower Hamlets: United Against Dementia. The event, two days before World Alzheimer’s Day on Friday 21 September, will set the priorities that will help bring the vision of a dementia friendly Tower Hamlets to life.

The conference is a collaboration between Alzheimer’s Society, Tower Hamlets Council and NHS Tower Hamlets CCG. It aims to address the barriers and reduce the stigma associated with dementia, while increasing awareness and providing people with the information to access an accurate and early diagnosis.

More than two thirds of Tower Hamlets residents belong to minority ethnic groups and one of the aims of the conference is to reach out and engage with BAME communities. Information and advice will be provided to ensure that people in these communities are aware of, and can access, the local support services available to help people live well with dementia.

Rushanara Ali, MP for Bethnal Green and Bow, opened the event with a short speech on how the Borough needs to work together to make it a safe and inclusive place for people with dementia to live. The local MP, who has visited Alzheimer’s Society services on previous occasions, noted how she was surprised by the number of family and community members she saw at the event.  Rushanara Ali spoke on how the stigma and perceptions around dementia within certain communities has stopped people she knew from telling friends, family and fellow community members about their dementia diagnosis.

This was followed by a speech from Denise Radley, Corporate Director Health Adults & Community London Borough Tower Hamlets and a panel featuring local residents who are directly affected by dementia. The local residents shared their personal experiences of dementia and what changes could be made to make Tower Hamlets more dementia friendly.

There are more than 1,200 people living with dementia in Tower Hamlets, and creating a dementia-friendly community will help reduce stigma around the condition and enable people to feel confident, understood, supported and be a valuable part of their community.

Many people with dementia report feeling trapped in their own homes and let down by their communities, with one in three only getting out once a week and one in 10 only managing this once a month.

Bill Gibbons, Alzheimer’s Society Service Manager for Tower Hamlets, says: “Many people with dementia tell us they feel isolated and let down by their communities, so it’s fantastic to see Tower Hamlets working hard to address this issue and working towards becoming a Dementia Friendly Community.” 

Tower Hamlets Mayor John Biggs said: “We want Tower Hamlets to be a borough where people with dementia live well and feel included in our community. That is why we are committed to working with our partners to ensure that Tower Hamlets is a dementia friendly borough by 2020.

To achieve this, everyone in Tower Hamlets needs to work together to take action and help break down the barriers that people with dementia face, improving their quality of life.”

Sir Sam Everington, Chair of Tower Hamlets CCG and a local GP, said: “We are delighted to be working with the Alzheimer’s Society and Tower Hamlets Council to improve the everyday lives of people in our borough who are living with and affected by dementia.

“The steps to creating a dementia friendly community are relatively small and simple but they can make the world of difference to those diagnosed with the condition, and to their carers and loved ones. Our aim is to ensure that people with dementia are able to live independently in their own communities.”

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, signed a pledge earlier this year to make London the world’s first dementia-friendly capital city. Following direct feedback gathered by Alzheimer’s Society from hundreds of people living with the condition in London, he is committed to ensuring that people affected by dementia will be able to:

  • travel to where they want to go safely
  • live somewhere they feel supported, understood and included in community life
  • receive the help they need to access quality health, care and support services when and where they require it
  • participate in all that London has to offer in arts, culture and leisure
  • feel confident to visit local high streets and town centres.
Posted on Wednesday 19th September 2018