A little information can go a long way

This Dementia Awareness Week, Councillor Ricky Henderson, Chair of the Edinburgh Integration Joint Board, comments on a new approach to keeping people with dementia safe in Edinburgh.

When someone with dementia goes missing, it’s a race against the clock to find them safe and well. Ricky Henderson

That’s why this Dementia Awareness Week, we’re adopting a new way of working together in Edinburgh - across the Council and NHS, Alzheimer Scotland and importantly the Police - to make sure every second counts.

Today we adopt The Herbert Protocol and we are encouraging families and carers, and all of our Edinburgh Health and Social Care Partnership staff, to compile important information about their loved ones and patients.

Named in memory of George Herbert, a war veteran who developed memory loss and went missing from his Norfolk care home, this Protocol is a national scheme. George tragically died seeking out his childhood home and this Protocol has been developed by the Police to prevent devastating situations like this happening again.

It involves compiling personal details like where somebody with dementia went to school, the medication they are in need of, any streets and buildings which might be familiar to them or a note of their hobbies and a recent photograph. By investing a little bit of time now and filling out this information, we might be able to save precious minutes should the worst happen and somebody gets lost.

I'm proud that Edinburgh is increasingly being recognised as a dementia-friendly city. We’ve seen places like Barnton and Cramond, South Queensferry, Portobello and Cameron Toll commit to helping people with dementia to live life well and enjoy everyday activities like shopping, traveling and socialising. Just last week, LifeCare opened a new dementia garden in Stockbridge and next week, Ferryfield House will open a new dementia café in Pilton.

Spreading awareness is critical, not least because stigma and lack of understanding are major barriers for people with dementia according to 66% of people who responded to an Alzheimer’s Society survey. The research also revealed that 35% of people with dementia only go out once a week or less.

In Scotland, 90,000 people live with dementia and with the number set to double over the next 20 years, so we also need to address some of the myths about memory loss. There are six little things everyone can do to support and encourage people with dementia: we can learn more about the facts, show patience, make sure we include people with dementia in conversations, be kind and show respect, help them to join in and be a friend.

All of these steps help people to lead the best lives they can in Edinburgh. The Herbert Protocol will also help us to keep people safe and could even could save lives.

Find out more at: www.scotland.police.uk/your-community/edinburgh.

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