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north yourkshire county council largeDementia Forward and North Yorkshire County Council are celebrating two years of working together to provide a support service that helps the county’s residents deal with the impact of dementia on their lives.

The County Council, in partnership with the NHS clinical commissioning groups in North Yorkshire, commissioned a dementia support service in 2014. The overall aim of the service is to improve people’s quality of life, promote their independence and help them to plan and to maintain or widen their social networks while living with dementia.

Dementia Forward’s support workers help people based in and around Harrogate, Ripon and the Vale of York to link up with agencies and groups that can support them, including, if they wish, others who are living with the condition.

“We can already see the difference the Dementia Forward’s support service is making,” said County Councillor Clare Wood, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Adult Social Care and Health Integration.

“It would be easy to judge the success of the service simply by the huge numbers of people accessing it, but it means a lot more than that. It is a wraparound service that provides a constant source of support for people through what can be a very complex and difficult time for them.

“The dementia service supports and informs people so that they can start to come to terms with their diagnosis and understand the options available to them – and their families and carers – and help them access what they need, when they need it.”

Dementia Forward offers weekly services in Harrogate, Ripon, Pickering, Helmsley and Selby where people are able to gain support, advice and information, but most importantly can access wellbeing activities and peer support. A team of Dementia Support Advisors provides one-to-one visits and work alongside families to ensure that they have the right information at the right time to make decisions about their health and wellbeing and what support they require.

Another important part of Dementia Forward’s work is to raise awareness of the condition. They are working within schools, teaching young people about dementia so that they can grow up with the knowledge and understanding to help to minimise any stigma attached to the condition.

They have also carried out hundreds of sessions at a wide variety of groups like Women’s Institutes, Rotary clubs, football clubs, swimming pools and retailers.

Jill Quinn, CEO of Dementia Forward, said: “A hugely important part of our dementia support service is to ensure that we are providing a service that enables not only individuals, but also the wider community, to understand and support those affected by dementia.

“The service provides much-needed emotional and practical support at the difficult junctures of the illness: at first diagnosis; understanding changes in behaviours; learning how to create coping strategies; and then knowing when full-term care is needed and how to organise that.

“We know that every individual will need a personalised approach. The service provides a single point of access for people and we are able to take the complexities out of what can be a very confusing condition.”

“Because there are so many people in North Yorkshire affected by dementia, there is a real need to connect with communities so that people can live well with the condition for as long as possible in their own homes,” added Cllr Wood.

“With over 1000 families being supported by Dementia Forward at any one time, the help of volunteers is crucial. If you feel that this is something you could become involved with please contact Dementia Forward on 01765 645904 to find out more.”

The Dementia Forward help line is available 9am to 4pm Monday to Friday 01765 601224/01904 692473.

A dementia support service for the rest of the county funded by North Yorkshire County Council and the NHS is provided by voluntary organisation Making Space.