“A diagnosis of dementia is not given just to one person – it is given to a spouse, a partner, a child, the extended family and friends. It is important to remember that every time a diagnosis is made it is life changing” Professor Alistair Burns
Dementia puts an enormous amount of strain on the individual, their carer and family, particularly as the disease progresses. Families often feel isolated from their communities; shopping and socialising can be difficult due to a lack of understanding and awareness, and that isolation can get worse as friends and neighbours keep their distance, not knowing how to best to adapt to the changing needs of a person living with dementia.
Around 2,500 people in Powys are living with dementia, and this number will only increase in the coming years. Over two-thirds of these people are living in the community. One-third live alone.
In June 2013, a group of like-minded individuals, working in collaboration with Brecon Town Council and Alzheimer's Society, held a public meeting which explored the idea of making Brecon a Dementia Friendly Community. This generated a lot of interest and enthusiasm about the value of and need for such an initiative. Two further meetings were coordinated, and in September 2013 a community-led steering group was formed. This was made up of carers, committed individuals, health and social care professionals and a range of other community and voluntary organisations.
In April 2014 the steering group was constituted as a not-for-profit organisation, enabling us to enrol members and raise funds. At the same time we established a local Brecon Dementia Action Alliance bringing together regional and local members to improve the lives of people with dementia. This currently includes Brecon Medical Practice, Powys Health Board, Brecon Library Service, Dyfed-Powys Police, Brecon Mountain Rescue, Brecon Beacons National Park Authority, MAWW Fire Service, Barclays, Lloyds Bank, MIND and Brecon Theatre. For the full list click here.
If you would like to know more about the Dementia Action Alliance across the UK click here 'Dementia Action Alliance'.
Having laid the foundations for the initiative, on 20th June 2014, again in association with Brecon Town Council, the official launch event was held - 'Working Towards Making Brecon a Dementia Friendly Community'. Over 60 people attended the event and pledged their support. We further extended our community network; encouraging shops, businesses and local community groups to get involved.
On 14th August 2014, Brecon received official 'Working to become Dementia Friendly' recognition from Alzheimer's Society. Brecon is the first community in Wales to achieve this status and reflects just how caring a community we are.