Council aims to raise bar on dementia care

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A PUSH is on to help transform Portsmouth into a dementia-friendly city.

Leaders have been tasked with ensuring the city achieves the status to symbolise how serious it is about helping patients and improving understanding of the condition.

Figures show around 2,000 people in the city have dementia, with 78 per cent of those being cared for at home by families.

The idea was put forward by Lib Dem councillor Will Purvis at yesterday’s meeting of the full council and got unanimous backing.

Cllr Purvis said his grandfather, a former radio operator in the Royal Navy, had dementia and struggled to be understood.

‘He had a very annoying habit and used to tap things; tables, chairs and it drove people absolutely mad,’ he said.

‘But everything changed one day when an old friend of my grandfather came to visit and he could understood what it meant – it was Morse code.

‘In a world where he struggled to express himself, it was the only way he knew of communicating to the outside world.

‘That’s what this motion is about, it’s about improving understanding.’

In order for the city to achieve dementia friendly status, a councillor will be appointed ‘dementia champion’ to campaign on issues.

An officer will also become a lead on dementia and find out more about how the council can provide support.

All staff will be required to become ‘dementia friends’ and participate in raising awareness during Dementia Awareness Week in May next year.

Tory councillor Steve Weymss said his mother has dementia and highlighted that the authority needs to be sending out clear information. He said she gets a bill for care from two different council departments which leads to confusion over whether she’s getting charged twice.

‘We at the council do need to take this on board,’ he said.

‘We act as corporate parents for children and we need to adopt a similar approach for people suffering with dementia.’

Councillors backed the future of the Patey Day Centre service in the north of the city being kept, and recognised the new initiative would reach out to more affected.

Figures for Portsmouth also show of those with dementia, 284 have a severe form, 700 have it moderately and 1,202 mildly.

The Alzheimer’s Society wants to create dementia-friendly communities across the UK and it is hoped it will help sufferers to feel more included in society.