World Alzheimer’s Day 2013: Let’s make Manchester a dementia-friendly community, say campaigners

By James Metcalf

Dementia sufferers are being shown support from across Greater Manchester as the region is coming together for World Alzheimer’s Day on Saturday.

From dementia-friendly hospital wards to specialist training to help those with Alzeheimer’s, there are multiple schemes across Greater Manchester to help the 4,000 dementia sufferers in the area.

An on-going project in Manchester is aiming to create dementia-friendly communities, where people with dementia are ‘understood, respected, supported, and confident they can contribute to community life’.

Sue Clarke, operations manager for Alzheimer’s Society in Manchester, said: “World Alzheimer’s Day gives us an opportunity to increase understanding about dementia, address misconceptions and ensure people receive the support they need to live well with the condition.

“We want people from all walks of life and backgrounds to join the Dementia Friendly Communities movement as there are still too many people with dementia who do not feel supported and part of their local area; they feel trapped in their own home, isolated, lonely and a burden.

“Many people with dementia are not able to take part in activities they enjoyed before they developed the condition, they want to engage with society but need support.”

Debbie Abrahams, MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth, recently completed the Dementia Friends training with the Alzheimer’s Society.

She is now pledging to take action for the 800,000 people suffering from Alzheimer’s in the UK and plans to put her training into practice in Oldham, making it a dementia friendly community.

Ms Abrahams said: “One in three people over 65 will develop dementia, and it is a health issue that we can no longer afford to ignore.”

Ms Abrahams pointed out that many people are suffering from the condition but have yet to be diagnosed.

In praise of the Dementia Friends scheme, Ms Clarke, said: “Most people don’t know enough about dementia. Dementia Friends is the perfect opportunity to be able to invite everyone to improve their knowledge.”

Oldham’s branch of the Alzheimer’s Society is also teaming up with Oldham Council’s Music Service for a weekly series of Singing for the Brain sessions on Wednesday afternoons.  

This community activity aims to promote communication through music for those who struggle with articulation, focus, and concentration.

Hayley Misell, Support Services Manager for the Alzheimer’s Society in Oldham, said: “Even when many memories are hard to retrieve, music can sometimes still be recalled – if only for a short while. The sessions help people with dementia communicate improving their mood and leaving them feeling good about themselves.”

She added: “There are over 2,400 people with dementia living in Oldham and this will rise to over 3,000 by 2021, but with the right support people can live well with the condition for a number of years.”

Elsewhere in Greater Manchester public bodies are doing what they can to raise awareness around Alzheimer’s.

In Salford plans to make the borough more dementia friendly have recently received a £1million boost.

Successfully obtaining this funding from the government, Salford is putting the money to good use, remodelling bedrooms and bathrooms and installing communal spaces for patients at Amadeus, Beach House, and Pendleton Court care homes.

Assistant Mayor for Adult Services, Councillor Peter Connor, said of the project: “Salford is well known for having excellent dementia health and care facilities and this funding will be used to enhance them.”

Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust is also doing its part in the battle against Alzheimer’s, teaming up with Greater Manchester West Mental Health NHS Trust to develop dementia friendly wards and create new outdoor spaces for patients and carers.

Along with these projects, Salford Council have also come together with the Alzheimer’s Society to form a Dementia Alliance, bringing together local charities, businesses, and public organisations in an effort to improve the quality of life for those affected by the condition.

“We already work closely with dementia champions – people living with the condition and their carers – to advise them about services and support available to them. Our Alliance and this funding are another great step forward in making Salford a dementia friendly city,” said Councillor Connor before the alliance comes into force at the end of this month.

Wigan Council has also been expanding their dementia friendly community. Following their extremely successful scheme in Hindley, where £15,000 from the NHS Innovation Fund allowed the council and the public to open eight projects, they now plan to roll out a similar venture in Scholes.

Wigan Council’s Partnership and Development Officer, Amanda Thomas, co-ordinated the Hindley project which was highlighted by the Alzheimer’s Society as a point of good practice.

Ms Thomas told MM that by asking residents what was required to achieve a dementia friendly community in Scholes, Wigan Council are able to involve the wider community in the scheme.

On September 27 at St Patrick’s Rugby Club members of the public can vote on prospective projects, meaning that the funding from Nesta Creative Council is awarded by the community.

Councillor Keith Cunliffe, Wigan’s Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: “We have been listening to what people think would improve the lives of people with dementia and their carers in Scholes.

“We are now in a position where we have a range of potential services which could launch with the funding, but the public will have the final say on how the money is to be allocated.”

Ms Thomas added: “This is a really nice opportunity for the community to come together in a real display of solidarity.”

As part of the development of Alzheimer awareness in Greater Manchester, Heaton Park is hosting a Memory Walk on September 28. Last year’s event raised £1.4million, and participants are asked to raise £50 for the fight against Alzheimer’s in their local area.

Alzheimer’s Society holds its flagship fundraising event, Memory Walk, in September to link in with World Alzheimer’s Day.

This year the Manchester walk is being held on Saturday September 28 in Heaton Park. For more information log on to

For more information on Dementia Friendly Communities log on to or to find out more on how to become a Dementia Friend and Friends Champion log on to 

Picture courtesy of Borya, with thanks.

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