A CONFERENCE aimed at increasing understanding of dementia and sharing good practice has been praised by The Queen’s representative in County Durham.
The Lord Lieutenant, Sue Snowdon, opened the “Living With Alzheimer’s and Dementia” event staged at Hardwick Hall, near Sedgfield.
Mrs Snowdon said: “Tackling the stigma around this condition is becoming a higher priority for public health bodies and events like this are so important in raising awareness because the more we understand, the more we can do to overcome this horrible disease.
“Patients, carers and families face many challenges and supporting a loved one with dementia can be extremely distressing.
“However, with advances constantly being made, this is definitely an area of growing clinical interest, and the speakers at today’s event are leaders in their field, so thank you to the organisers for making it happen so we can share experiences.”
The free event – organised by Dale Care, the North-East’s largest provider of home care services – was attended by families of people suffering with dementia, as well as carers, and a host of organisations linked to the care industry.
Guest speakers were Anthony Horan, representing Alzheimer’s Resesarch UK, the country’s leading dementia research charity, and Janet Mortimer (below), Lead Nurse in Dementia, Delerium and the Enhanced Care Observation Team for the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust.
Janet, a nurse for more than 40 years, has pioneered revolutionary changes in the care of people with dementia in the North-East.
She told the audience: “Always remember that you are the experts about the individual person you are caring for and little changes can have a significant impact on their quality of life.”
Anthony explained that 850,000 people in the UK have been diagnosed with dementia and one in three children will go on to develop the condition.
Organisations taking part in the event included Durham County Carers Support, the Durham Alliance for Community Care, Hartlepool Carers, Starfish Health and Wellbeing, and Wiltshire Farm Foods, which is part of Dementia Action Alliance.
Helen Dryden, operations manager for Durham Alliance for Community Care, said: “It’s been very valuable to bring people and organisations together who can share best practice.”
Janice Coulson, carer support co-ordinator for Durham County Carers Support, added: “I’ve found it really useful to link up with other organisations in the area and speak to lots of carers. There’s been some really valuable advice and sharing of good practice so that has to be positive.”
Carol Jackson, marketing and communications manager for Dale Care, said: “This is the second time we’ve staged this event in the North-East and we were delighted by the response and the positive feedback. Dale Care is passionate about raising awareness of dementia and improving the quality of life for patients, carers and families so, hopefully, the event will continue to develop in the years ahead.”
Left to right, Janet Mortimer, Dale Care Operations Director Angela Donohue, Dale Care Marketing and Communications Manager Carol Jackson, and Anthony Horan