‘Put dementia on the agenda’ – Prime Minister endorses new guidance for town and parish councils

New guidance to help local councils and their communities become dementia friendly has been released today (30 November) – with the Prime Minister endorsing the work as ‘excellent and practical’.

Developed by the University of Plymouth and National Association for Local Councils (NALC), the Dementia Friendly Communities Guide was compiled based on successful case studies and research that have made a tangible difference to people with dementia and their carers.

Launched today at NALC’s conference, the guide contains a checklist and reminders, such as:

  • Having dementia-friendly initiatives as a regular agenda item at monthly council meetings.
  • Doing an audit of dementia support initiatives already in place to identify gaps.
  • Ensuring that all public buildings are dementia friendly.

Ian Sherriff BEM, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at the University of Plymouth, recently met with the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, to discuss why the guidance was important. Now that it has been released, Mr Johnson was pleased to provide a letter of endorsement for its contents, and hoped it would ‘inspire people across the UK to create their own vibrant and inclusive Rural Dementia Communities’.

Open the Prime Minister's letter as a pdf

Mr Sherriff, whose work on dementia-friendly parishes around the Yealm in South Devon back in 2012 kick-started national dementia-friendly initiatives, said: 

“One in every 14 people aged 65 and over has dementia. With rural communities often having more elderly populations, it’s vital that town and parish councils do everything they can to make people with dementia and their carers feel included and connected. COVID-19 has made life harder in so many ways, not least trying to maintain contact with groups who are more vulnerable or isolated. So the guidance refers to things to consider, such as developing the use of IT, during the pandemic. I’d like to thank the Prime Minister for endorsing the report, and hope it serves as useful guidance for local councils across the UK for many years to come.” 

Cllr Sue Baxter, NALC chairman, said: 

"It's great to launch this new dementia publication. It highlights the role that local councils can make in levelling-up their communities and supporting the most vulnerable in our society. I hope that it gives local councils the confidence to make changes in their communities – small steps and changes make a big impact for people living with dementia and their families.”
Ian Sherriff is part of the University of Plymouth’s Community and Primary Care Research Group and is a leading figure in dementia policy at a local, national and international level. He has an influence both through his involvement in research, and as an expert on bodies such as the Prime Minister’s Dementia Friendly Communities Challenge Group and the Prime Minister’s Rural Dementia Group, which he chairs.

Internationally, as Chair of the Dementia Air Transport Group (2016–2020), he has worked with the Civil Aviation Authority, the aviation industry and people with dementia to introduce new CAA guidelines (2016) to assist passengers with hidden disabilities.