East Dunbartonshire councillors get dementia awareness training

East Dunbartonshire Council continued its ground-breaking work with people in the community living with dementia by offering councillors a unique course designed in dementia awareness.

Elected members, who had already taken part in previous dementia awareness workshops, received ‘dementia informed’ training from the council and its partners in East Dunbartonshire Dementia Network at a special course held in the chambers last week.

Over 2,000 people in East Dunbartonshire have dementia and, as our population ages, more people will come into contact with someone with dementia, either through family, friends, neighbours, people in their community and through the media.

As part of the council’s Dementia Plan a knowledge and skills framework was established to ensure that anyone in contact with a person with dementia knows about the condition, available support and can demonstrate skills in communication.

The course was specially designed by the Dementia Network and being informed about dementia has given councillors a greater awareness and understanding of the condition.

Recognising the symptoms of dementia as well as having an understanding of the issues that people with dementia and carers experience is an essential part of working with members of the local community.

The programme used a range of media and included direct input from people with dementia and carers who are currently living with dementia in East Dunbartonshire.

The council’s Social Work Dementia Champions and Ambassadors were present along with third sector providers Alzheimer Scotland, Carers Link and Ceartas.

Those who attended also heard about the council’s work with local businesses, dementia friendly town planning and the ground breaking co-production dementia project PRESENT.

Elected members who completed the course will be presented with a special certificate by Councillor Michael O’Donnell, Convenor of Social Work for East Dunbartonshire Council, at a later date.

He said: “East Dunbartonshire Council is currently engaged in a range of activities to promote our status as a Dementia Friendly Council.

“Dementia Friendly means a community where people know about dementia and the challenges facing those with the condition. It also relates to the environment and creating opportunities for people with dementia to be active citizens in the place where they live.

“Becoming dementia friendly is not a one-off project. It is a permanent process of improvement which involves as many people as possible, including Councillors.

“We have a well-established Dementia Network in East Dunbartonshire and this work with the elected members is just part of the excellent and innovative work to raise awareness of dementia and provide information and support to those who are concerned about the condition.

“Dementia can have a life-changing effect on people who are affected by it, as well as those who care for them.

“Much can be done that makes a real difference. Meeting the needs and expectations of people with dementia and their carers should not be an afterthought or an add-on.”

Dementia Informed training has also been completed by social work staff and all firefighters based in East Dunbartonshire’s three stations. There is a full programme of training planned for 2014 with other groups.