All of us know a family member who suffers from this terrible disease: as I discussed with my Haltwhistle constituents, at the Haltwhistle Dementia Support group last week, I am acutely aware of its impact, the loss of dignity, and the difficulties faced by the carers.
But there is beginning to develop a number of ways in which I see a difference being made across the Tyne valley: examples are as follows.
- I have been involved with the Corbridge communities efforts to become completely dementia friendly and to provide assisted walks and activities for some time. Led by councillor Melvyn Stone I trained to become a dementia friend last year.
More details here: http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/north-east-news/mp-joins-assisted-walk-corbridge-7621737
- last week I was lucky enough to spend time with the Haltwhistle Dementia support group and provide answers to their questions on how we provide ongoing support, medical services, and Howe tackle respite care whilst being at the very far end of Northumberland. The integration of Northumbria NHS with North Cumbria will clearly make a massive difference so that we are no longer at the end of the line but much more at the heart of the medical provision that exists in the true north.
- and I was lucky enough to join the team from Chrysalis in Hexham who do a fantastic job fundraising and supporting the local community at the Torch Centre. I helped open their new garden and got my hands dirty picking potatoes in a good cause.
Going forward there is no doubt that we need to learn best practice from each other, get local councils and communities on board, and engage with the local GPs and clinical commissioning groups to ensure that these services are genuinely recognised and supported. There is, as we discussed as well in Haltwhistle, a lot more to do to provide respite care.