It was great to attend the South Ribble Dementia Friendly Conference at the Samlesbury Hotel on Friday 29th April, seeing so many people there from a diverse range of organisations which included the Fire Service, Progress Housing, the Police, the Dementia Action Alliance and the Lancashire Wellbeing Service.
The issues older people face can include frequent falls, social isolation and being targeted by criminals. It makes you realise just how many agencies are involved and how they have to work together to provide support. The conference brought home how an ageing society is placing ever increasing demands on public services, for example, a significant role of the fire service is now to educate and prevent fire risks in the homes of older people, with people with memory issues more at risk.
When describing how frequently people fall in their own home, it demonstrated the need for services such as Progress Housing’s Lifeline in which someone will inform a relative or visit a person’s home in an emergency. However, this service does have costs – the equipment and monthly subscription – and this begs the question as to what happens if a person cannot afford it?
Sergeant Mark Douglas did a talk on how criminals may target older people, he went on to say that criminals often identify where an older person lives and see their property as an easier target. However, Mark’s team are dedicated to working on these crimes and offer advice on how to improve home security.
Many agencies only have short term funding or if charities rely on donations. This means despite these services being essential and increasing demand, they often have uncertain long term futures. An example of this is the “Wellbeing Service” which helps vulnerable people who have mild mental health issues often cause by social isolation. People are entitled to around six hours support from a range of different professionals who understand their issues, support them and signpost to key organisations. The organisation has two years funding, making it difficult to plan for the long term.
The lessons learnt from the conference were that demand is increasing for dementia related services but people are reliant on many agencies working together, some of which often have an uncertain future.