Rescue chiefs light fire under dementia challenge

Published on Friday, 14 September 2012 10:06
Posted by Vicki Mitchem

Fire and Rescue Services from Tyneside to Kent will join the fight against dementia as fire services across the country are encouraged to make a landmark pledge to help tackle the condition.

The pledge, being launched at a conference held by Staffordshire University , commits fire services to raising awareness, promoting adaptations to the home and joining the movement for the creation of dementia friendly communities. Fourteen fire services have already signed up and organisers aim to get all 49 fire services in England and Wales to make the commitment.

If adopted, the commitment could help protect the lives of people with dementia and help them stay at home longer.A national challenge on dementia launched by the Prime Minister in March this year aims to see institutions across public life incorporate the needs of people with dementia. Kent Fire and Rescue Service is leading the way as part of a 'Champion Group' which also includes leading companies such as Lloyds TSB, Eon, First Group and BT  and people with dementia.

The group is led by Alzheimer's Society ambassador Angela Rippon and the charity's chief executive Jeremy Hughes. It will report back to the Prime Minister this autumn on the progress of work to create dementia friendly communities.

Jeremy Hughes, Chief Executive at Alzheimer's Society said:

'Whether in an emergency or in routine safety checks for vulnerable people, firefighters have a vital part to play in protecting and supporting people with dementia. All of us would be distressed if caught in a fire, but for someone with dementia who may be unable to understand why a stranger is taking them away from their house, the experience can be even more traumatic. Ensuring firefighters are dementia aware will not only help them react to incidents but also encourage measures that stop fires happening to begin with.

There are 800,000 people living with dementia in the UK . Health and social care professionals can't be and shouldn't be the only people on the front line in tackling dementia. Like the fire and rescue teams who have signed up today, we all have a role in making society more dementia friendly.'

Ann Millington, Chief Executive of Kent Fire and Rescue Service said:

'The effects of fire can be devastating, but with advice and support we can help people make small changes that make a big difference to their safety. Fire and rescue services around the country are already doing excellent work in their local communities, and we are all keen to work closely with colleagues in other sectors to identify those who need our help. The Prime Minister's dementia challenge is a great opportunity to work towards creating safer communities for those with dementia.

Kent Fire and Rescue Service's vulnerable person's team works with around 100 vulnerable people every month, including helping people with dementia stay safe and independent in their own homes. The service is free and the specially trained team visit, assess and offer essential advice to people with dementia and their carers. That could include anything from cooker shut offs when someone is getting forgetful about turning off the hob to fire proof blankets or lockable electric sockets.'

Source: ©Alzheimer's Society

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