As regular readers will know, I support the Dementia Friends initiative – http://www.dementiafriends.org.uk. Since becoming a “friend” myself, I have completed my training to be a “champion” and now regularly run awareness sessions. There are those, whose views I respect, who don’t like the use of the word friend in connection with dementia but if becoming a friend means being more aware of a disease which affects more than 800,000 people in the UK (and those are just the ones with a diagnosis) and costs the country around £23m a year, then I’m happy to be one.
Dementia Friends is about turning that awareness into action, about individuals doing little things to make the lives of people living with dementia and their carers a bit better. Our target is to create one million dementia friends in the United Kingdom by 2015. We’re almost at 350,000 as I write this, 12 of whom come from Warwick Avon Rotary Club after an awareness session on Tuesday evening.
So far, so clear (I hope). I worry, though, about the clarity of the dementia message sometimes. This week, the Warwickshire campaign group of the Alzheimer’s Society enjoyed a presentation by the Dementia Action Alliance, which is aimed at making businesses and organisations more dementia friendly. The aim is to create Dementia Friendly Communities, with the help of Dementia Friends. So, there we have it. Three different brands, for want of a better term, all kicking towards the same goal. There’s nothing wrong with strength in numbers of course, but for those not closely involved with dementia, perhaps the use three different terms for what is essentially the same thing confuses the issue. Would it not be better to use one name with which to push our message?