Hastings and St Leonards Dementia Action Alliance
The Sussex coast attracts retirees who come to the South to enjoy ‘the sunshine coast’. It’s also a popular place for older people to enjoy a holiday. With the highest population of very elderly residents in the country, East Sussex has a significantly higher prevalence of dementia than the England average. In Hastings & St Leonards-on-Sea we attract lots of day visitors, and want our town to be a great place for folks living with dementia to spend a day at the seaside. We’ve particular challenges – as shown by the April 2015 joint strategic needs & assets assessment:
- estimates for 2013/14 suggest GPs have identified only 51% of people living with dementia
- we have significantly higher than expected emergency admissions of people living with dementia compared to the rest of East Sussex - the highest ratio of all the East Sussex districts/boroughs
- life expectancy generally is significantly lower than in the rest of East Sussex
This means there is a powerful need for the town to be working towards becoming dementia-friendly.
The Dementia Action Alliance is a group of local people and organisations. We’ve come together with the aim of working towards Hastings and St Leonards becoming dementia friendly. We will:
- Engage the whole Hastings and St Leonards community in the pursuit of this aim
- Increase awareness and understanding of dementia
- Offer briefings and basic information to shops, businesses and community groups
- Establish a network of support and information within Hastings and St Leonard’s
- Signpost those in need of support to sources of help and guidance.
Our chair is Pam Brown OBE. Pam is a former leader of Hastings Borough Council. She’s well-respected in the local community and is active in many local causes. She’s President of the Hastings Seniors Forum.
In July 2014, the local Seniors Forum decided to work towards Hastings & St Leonards becoming a dementia friendly town. With help and advice from Hastings Voluntary Action (HVA) , a staff member of East Sussex County Council, an organiser of a local Dementia Group, together with a representative of the regional Alzheimer’s Society, a meeting was organised and 70 people attended.
Following this event, a Steering Group emerged with the aim of engaging with the public and voluntary sectors, local business, shops and services, to facilitate an improved understanding of dementia. We aim to ensure that those with dementia and their carers will feel welcome, safe and supported in their local community, able to live as independently as possible. Fifteen organisations pledged their organisation to join the DAA, eight organisations offered to help organise the DAA.
As a result of the event a steering group was drawn together to set up a Hastings and St Leonard’s Dementia Action Alliance.
- Involved organisations are taking action or are developing action plans
- We’re keeping a mailing list of 50 other interested people and organisations informed
- We’re considering a proposal for a Dementia Havens network – learning from the Brighton & Hove bus company model
- A number of people involved in the DAA have trained as Dementia Champions and are delivering local sessions
- We’ve set up a Facebook page and Twitter account
- We’ve worked with the local college – a student has designed our logo featuring a net hut – a local landmark
- We’re organising an information stall and public Dementia Friends sessions to mark Dementia Awareness week 2015
- We’re organising an event at a local supermarket in June 2015
- We’re finalising our constitution/terms of reference
How interested organisations can join
Members of the steering group currently include:
- Hastings and St Leonards’ Seniors Forum
- Dementia Support at The Bridge community centre
- Hastings Voluntary Action
- AmicusHorizon housing association
- Association of Carers
- Hastings Borough Council
- East Sussex County Council
The steering group meet every six weeks. For meeting dates or if you want to join please see our facebook page dementia.hastings, or email firstname.lastname@example.org