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In my opinion: Devon leading the way on support for dementia sufferers

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 28, 2012

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The announcement by the Government of a national scheme to train a million volunteers as Dementia Friends by 2015 is welcomed by Devon Senior Voice (DSV), the voluntary forum for the over-50s.

It is official reinforcement of what has already been occurring in various parts of the country, including Devon.

DSV has been working on dementia awareness since 2008, when we were involved in forming the National Dementia Strategy.

Since that date, we have co-operated with REPoD (Rotarians Easing Problems of Dementia) in a variety of ways to support people with the condition.

For example, in 2008 there were just 12 memory cafés – venues that welcome those with dementia and their carers – in Devon, including two in Torbay and four in Plymouth.

That is still the position in Torbay and Plymouth, but in Devon there is now a flourishing network of 38, largely owing to the efforts of DSV and REPoD, who have provided venues for meetings and some small amounts of start-up funding.

Most cafés are now self-funded, and are free for their users.

Devon now has the highest number of memory cafés of any county.

A full list of memory cafés can be found at http://www.devonpartnership.nhs.uk/Older-People-s-Mental-Health.69.0.html.

DSV also supported the production and distribution of the first 7,000 copies of the free booklet Caring for Dementia: the Dementia Carer's Pathway in Devon by former carers David Light and Jim Delves, which REPoD has on its website.

It is a comprehensive guide to all the avenues of help available, which is now part of Devon's Dementia Strategy and is available in GPs' surgeries, hospitals and some libraries.

We have also held four successful dementia-awareness days in Barnstaple, Exmouth, Tiverton and Harberton, near Totnes.

We are now finishing planning our fifth such event, which takes place on Monday 17 December at Tavistock Town Hall, from 10am to 4pm. Angela Rippon OBE, the well-known champion of those with dementia and their carers, will give the keynote speech.

The event will also mark the launch of the Tavistock Dementia Action Alliance, which is seen as the first step to making Tavistock a dementia-friendly town.

Devon is way ahead of the rest of the country in helping people with dementia and their carers.

For further information on this letter, please contact the Devon Senior Voice Publicity & Development Officer Tim Hall on 01647 273007 or email tim@scfd.org.uk

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