Welcome for new Dementia Friends plan

The government is launching a new Dementia Friends scheme, reports BBC News. It is modelled on a similar programme in Japan which has recruited three million volunteers.

Under the scheme sessions will be held in workplaces and public buildings across the country to explain what dementia is, what it is like to have the condition and what people can do to help if they meet someone with the symptoms.

It is part of plans to raise awareness of the condition, which affects nearly 700,000 people in England.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said that dementia is a national crisis and awareness of it is "shockingly low".The number of people with dementia is expected to double in the next 30 years because more people are living longer.

Welcoming the news, Chartered Psychologist Cath Burley, Chair of the Faculty of the Psychology of Older People of the Society's Division of Clinical Psychology, said:

"The creation of this large body of people who will be more supportive of people with dementia, an, as importantly, their family carers, is great news and hopefully an achievable target.

"It is important not to forget that there is still a lot of misunderstanding among professionals both in primary care and A&E, general hospitals and care homes around the needs of people with dementia that needs to be addressed.

"Whilst the friendly community is to be applauded and much can be done we need to help people across health and social care see the person not the problem and treat them with understanding and respect.

"Psychologists have been at the forefront of developing the evidence base around person centred approaches to working with people with dementia for over 30 years. Supporting individuals and their families through the whole dementia journey of assessment, diagnosis care transitions and end of life care and working with other professionals and groups to ensure that staffs have a much better understanding of dementia and the challenges it brings.

"Not all memory problems are a dementia and stress and depression and infections can also lead to temporary memory problems. It is important to see your GP in the first instance. Psychologists work routinely all over the country to support older people with dementia and other mental health conditions "

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