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Office of Hazel Blears, Labour MP for Salford and Eccles

I am elected to represent the people of Salford and Eccles. Supported by staff in my Salford office, I help constituents with any problems they may have and do everything I can to improve the quality of life for local people. I strive to get the best deal possible for the area from central Government and campaign on issues that matter to residents, including employment, housing, social mobility and dementia.

24 October 2013
North West
Communication, Other
Local Alliances:
Salford Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists a number of outcomes that we are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

 I know the toll dementia can take on families and carers because my mum developed Alzheimer’s several years ago.  The long-term aim has to be to find a cure, but in the meantime there are big challenges ahead in improving the rates and quality of diagnosis, and ensuring that people with dementia can  live well with the disease and retain some independence for as long as possible.  As vice chair of the All Party Parliamentary Committee on Dementia and an Alzheimer’s Society ambassador, I raise the profile of the issue nationally and do my best to ensure it is treated as a priority by the Government – recently I met the health secretary Jeremy Hunt to discuss the national dementia strategy, for instance.  Locally, I am supporting and joining the Dementia Action Alliance to help make all organisations more aware of the needs of people with dementia.  I liaise with health professionals, academics and the public, private and voluntary sectors, to discuss best practice and consider new developments in combating the disease while seeking to build upon the fantastic facilities we have locally for people with dementia.

 2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

At a national level, my challenge is to influence policy on dementia as a backbencher in an opposition party.  Developments in dementia research and care are fast-moving.  This is good, because it shows there is a real interest in making progress, but keeping abreast of all these developments is a real challenge for me and my staff.  Locally, persuading organisations to adapt their services to help dementia services at a time when money is short is not easy and there is no quick fix in terms of improving diagnosis rates.

2. Actions

  • Make our office dementia-friendly

    I want us to make our office dementia-friendly in case a constituent with dementia needs to visit our office to seek help with a local issue or problem, or to assist us in our efforts to improve the quality of life for local people who have dementia.  I want anyone with dementia who visits our office to find the experience as easy and stress-free as possible.  This means ensuring that the public area of my constituency office has dementia friendly furniture and facilities and is a dementia-friendly environment.

     We will:

    • Place new clear colour signs on publicly accessible doors which currently do not have signs including a Toilet sign on the toilet door, a Staff Only sign on one side of the main internal door and a Reception sign on the other side, and a Staff Only sign on the kitchen door.
    • Introduce larger, clearer, Fire Door signs on the main internal door.
    • Introduce a ‘Press Button for Attention’ sign above the intercom button and a new Opening Hours sign on the main door, with an arrow pointing out the intercom.
    • Remove posters from the main door window to help make it clear that this is the main entrance – these posters may confuse someone with dementia.
    • Keep the kitchen door in the staff-only area closed in case it confuses someone with dementia who has been through to go to the toilet.
    • Put our disability ramp into use at the main entrance if someone       with dementia visits. There is a small step here.
    • Replace the white toilet seat with a coloured seat to make the  toilet easier to use for people with visual problems.
    • Ensure all staff use Alzheimer’s Society guidance on dementia-friendly letters when writing to constituents etc.
  • Train as dementia friends

    My staff and I are booked onto one of the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends training sessions.  These aim to improve our understanding of dementia and how we can help people with dementia in our everyday lives.  This might simply be in our personal interaction with a family member of stranger we suspect may have dementia – for instance, by being particularly patient and reassuring.  Or it might manifest itself in practical ways – for example by helping someone with dementia who appears lost to find their way somewhere.

  • Raise awareness of dementia, ensure it is a priority for Government, work to improve diagnosis and make our area dementia-friendly.

    Continue my actions outlined under 1) and ensure my staffs continue to support me in this respect.  Joining the Salford Dementia Action Alliance and working with the Alzheimer’s Society and members of the Alliance to create a Dementia Friendly Community will contribute to this.

    Implementation, Planning
  • Office to stock and staff to carry dementia helpcards as recommended by the Alzheimer’s Society.

    We will order dementia helpcards from Xcalibre and make these publicly available in our reception for visitors.  My staff and I can also carry a couple in case they encounter someone with dementia and/or their carer, who may find a card useful.


    Implementation, Delivery
  • Make our constituent surgery office at Pendleton Gateway dementia-friendly.

    Ensure constituents who arrange surgery appointments are given clear directions if unsure where Pendleton Gateway is, with reference to local landmarks.  Make it clear that they should report to reception on arrival and say why they are there.  Order a roll-up banner to put up outside the office, clearly stating that my surgery is taking place in the room.