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Housing association becomes Dementia Friendly

Dementia has been described as the biggest global challenge facing a generation. Ahead of Dementia Action Week, housing association Housing Plus Group has announced an ambitious target to become one of the region’s most influential Dementia Friends.

The housing and care provider employs more than 600 people in Shropshire and Staffordshire, many of whom are in customer-facing roles including housing officers, carers, customer service advisors and those responsible for repairing and maintaining its properties. The Group aims to ensure that every member of staff has the opportunity to become a Dementia Friend.

In April eighteen Dementia Friend workshops for staff and volunteers took place. Residents of the Group’s retirement living communities, their family members and neighbours also stepped forward to back the dementia awareness campaign.

Les Clarke, director of care and support at Housing Plus Group, said: “Dementia is a major issue for the whole community. As a large local employer with more than 12,000 customers in this area, we are in a position to make a difference.  We all need to know how to help and support with the issues faced by people affected by or living with dementia.

“We have already trained almost 200 new Dementia Friends, including many of customers, their friends and family members alongside our own members of staff.”

Housing Plus Group will continue training Dementia Friends in the run-up to Dementia Action Week which runs from 20 to 26 May 2019.

Around a million people are affected by dementia in the UK and almost as many again care for someone with the disease. Research suggests that one in three babies born in 2015 will develop dementia in their lifetime.

“The goal of Dementia Action Week is to change communities, which is central to our purpose as a not for profit organisation,” said Les Clarke. “It’s about helping families and neighbours to support each other and to respond to the changes they see in the people around them. Something as simple as knowing what to say and how to say it, can improve the experience for people with dementia and those that care for them.

“We are doing our bit to bring about positive change in our own neighbourhoods, creating a dementia-friendly society where those with dementia do not feel excluded.”