The devastating impact of Covid-19 on the dementia community in Orkney has been deeply felt these past 15 months – exacerbating what can be a challenging condition for families.
A multi-agency approach is being taken locally in a bid to ensure the dementia community are “never forgotten” while raising awareness of a number of initiatives kickstarted during Dementia Awareness Week, which runs until 6 June.
Working together, the Police, Age Scotland Orkney, NHS Orkney, Orkney Islands Council and Dementia Friendly Orkney want to ensure people affected by dementia are aware of the initiatives.
Gillian Coghill, NHS Orkney Alzheimer Scotland Clinical Nurse Specialist, led on the local delivery of the Orkney Dementia Strategy, approved by Orkney Health and Care Integration Joint Board, and is encouraging everyone, particularly those affected by dementia in any way, to get involved.
She said: “This is a collaboration effort to raise awareness of a number of initiatives, in particular the roll out of the Herbert Protocol. This is named after a man called George Herbert who was a war veteran who developed dementia. He went missing and sadly died when searching for his childhood home.
“In his memory his family have developed a proactive missing person initiative. This involves completing a form with information that would be useful if someone goes missing. The system provides the police with vital information to search for the person living with the dementia. It’s a form that is kept at home containing important information regarding known routines, habits as well as descriptions of your friend/relative and details of their and others involved with their care. It can be handed to police so that you do not have to worry about gathering the information during what can be a very stressful time. Having this ready, along with a photo of the person, can save crucial time to aid finding someone more swiftly. The plan is to offer everyone referred for post diagnostic support the opportunity to complete the form.”
Forms are available on the Police Scotland website or locally from Age Scotland Orkney, either by calling 872438 or from their office in Victoria Street.
“When anyone goes missing it is a very distressing and worrying time for the families concerned – we would encourage all families who are affected by dementia to fill in these forms. Free coloured folders have been donated by Dementia Friendly Orkney to support identifiable storage. These can be accessed through Age Scotland Orkney. We would ask families to support people to keep the forms up to date.”
You can also make your area safer for people with dementia by downloading Purple Alert, a community minded app to help locate people with dementia if they are missing.
Alerts are only raised when someone with dementia is reported as missing. If you have created a profile for a person with dementia and you have sent an alert using the app that the person is missing, then the missing person profile is made public to every Purple Alert user within 30 miles radius of the last seen location.
Reflecting on the true experience of the pandemic for those with dementia, their families and carers, Dementia Awareness Week is exploring “Hidden voices, Hidden impact, Hidden cost”.
There will be a range of topics displayed in the windows at Age Scotland Orkney throughout the week. These will raise awareness of support and services available locally and nationally.
A series of learning sessions for staff have been developed through Alzheimer Scotland Consultant Nurse group.
People will be asked to make a “Forget Me Not” Pledge (Alzheimer Scotland), showing support by sharing a pledge on social media by using #DementiaAwareness or you can download a printable copy for display from Alzheimer Scotland website. The pledge could be from committing to learning a bit more about dementia to sharing personal experiences.
Gillian Coghill said our actions can make a vital difference to quality of life for people with a diagnosis of dementia and their families.
“In Orkney there are 474 people currently estimated to be living with dementia. This is projected to almost double by 2041. We must do all we can to ensure all their life experiences are as positive as possible. Initiatives such as these do help, and we must not forget our groundbreaking Orkney Dementia Strategy which was developed alongside those living with dementia and their carers.
The Orkney Dementia Strategy 2020-2025 sets out a renewed vision for dementia care and support in Orkney.
The five-year strategy provides a framework for improvement in support and services for people with a diagnosis of dementia and those who provide unpaid support for them throughout communities in Orkney.