Dr Edward KunongaTHE rising number of people living with dementia in Middlesbrough is tackled in a new report looking at how the increase is best handled.

The annual report of Middlesbrough’s Director of Public Health, Dr Edward Kunonga, focuses in 2015-16 on ‘Dementia Friendly Middlesbrough’.

Earlier this year the town had the status bestowed on it for the work that has been done in improving awareness of dementia and educating the public and local businesses on how best to help people living with the condition.

The report recommends carrying out a detailed Dementia Health Needs Assessment to further inform a strategy and action plan that will ensure the needs of vulnerable groups are understood, take into account future demands on services and ensure the voices of patients and carers are at the heart of policy.

In 2014/15 there were 1,168 people recorded as having dementia on general practitioner (GP) practice registers in Middlesbrough but estimates suggest a further 600 people will live in the town without being known.

Dementia diagnosis is 10 times higher for people aged over 65 and it is estimated that in Middlesbrough the population of over 65s will increase from 22,400 in 2015 to 30,000 in 2030.

Also proposed is further work to continue tackling the stigma of dementia and to increase education and awareness and strengthen collaborations between partner agencies.

Dr Kunonga writes: “Dementia is challenging for people with the condition, their families and for those that provide care for them. Dementia is a priority for Middlesbrough and we aim to enable all local people with dementia, their carers and families to live well with the condition.

“Whilst a lot has been done and achieved so far, a lot more work needs to be done in order to improve the lives of people with dementia.

“The true test of whether we are a dementia friendly town will be improved experiences and outcomes for people with dementia, their carers and families.”

A celebration event to mark Middlesbrough becoming a Dementia Friendly Town was held at Jury’s Inn and was attended by local people living with dementia and businesses who had undergone training for a better understanding of how to assist people with dementia.

Among the attendees were Acklam couple Marge Harvey, 76, and husband Jimmy, 80, who was diagnosed eight years ago. At the time Marge said: “It’s not something that is going to go away, it’s going to snowball so the more people that get involved the better it is for everyone all round. There are a lot of places now where you know you are going to be helped.”