United against Dementia Date published: 20th September 2017 4.43pm

Emergency services in Cheshire pledged their commitment to support people living with dementia.

On Wednesday 20 September the leaders of Cheshire Constabulary, Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service and North West Ambulance Service joined together to sign the Emergency Services Strategic Commitment on Dementia.

By signing the commitment, a national initiative run by the Alzheimer’s Society, they all pledged to work together to maintain and improve the safety of people living with dementia, and support their families and carers.

They will ensure that all officers, firefighters and paramedics have the necessary awareness, skills and understanding to recognise and support people living with dementia before, during and after they come into contact with them.

Janette McCormick, Acting Chief Constable of Cheshire Constabulary, said: “Dementia touches the lives of millions of people across the UK, and many of these people come into contact with the police, whether that be as a victim, a carer or a member of staff.

“That is why we have already undertaken a large amount of work to support people living with the condition. This includes a scheme which aims to give our officers and staff the specialist knowledge they require when dealing with people living with dementia.

“We have also rolled out the Herbert Protocol, a scheme specially designed for people who live with dementia, many of whom often start to wander and sometimes go missing. The scheme works by encouraging their carers to complete a simple online form listing all vital information which can be easily accessed should they ever go missing.

“By signing this commitment today I pledge to continue this work and help to make Cheshire a dementia friendly county. In addition, as an employer I will ensure that we have the policies in place within our organisation to support our own staff who are touched by dementia.”

The three agencies will also work towards being dementia friendly employers, ensuring that policies and procedures are in place to support colleagues who become carers or those who themselves develop dementia.

Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner David Keane said: “I’m so proud to be signing this commitment and I truly believe that the scheme will make a difference to the communities we serve.

“Dementia can affect anyone. Many of those people will come into contact with the emergency services at some point, which is why it is essential that we all have a true understanding of the condition.

“By signing this commitment I aim to ensure that all officers and staff are able to handle situations more effectively and compassionately when dealing with people living with dementia; whether that be as a victim, witness, offender or missing person.”

The announcement coincides with World Alzheimer’s Day, an international day when organisations around the world join together to raise awareness about Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Paul Hancock, Chief Officer of Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Cheshire Fire and Rescue Service carries out thousands of visits each year to the homes of vulnerable people, including those with dementia, as part of our Safe and Well visit strategy.

“Firefighters and specially trained advocates help fit smoke alarms in the homes of vulnerable people but also carry out safety assessments to try and stop people falling and injuring themselves in their homes.

“We are always looking at ways we can improve the service we provide to the most vulnerable and this commitment with our partners in the emergency services is an important step to doing that.”

Chair of the Cheshire Fire Authority, Cllr Bob Rudd, said: “Dementia is becoming a bigger issue in our society with an ageing population. It is only right that our emergency services pledge to do all they can to ensure that some of the most vulnerable people in our society are kept safe.”

As part of the commitment all three agencies have pledged to support Alzheimer’s Society in their quest to develop more dementia-friendly communities across the county, and unite together in the fight against dementia.

Derek Cartwright QAM, Chief Executive of North West Ambulance Service, said: “As a member of the Association of Ambulance Chief Executives, I have signed up to the national dementia strategy with the ultimate aim of achieving a dementia friendly and aware workforce. Dementia touches so many lives and can have a devastating effect on patients and their families and our frontline crews are often the first point of call when people simply do not know where else to turn.

“I hope that with this joint venture, as trusted public sector organisations, we can all work together to improve the care of dementia sufferers and ensure they are safe and receive the support they and their loved ones need.”

To find out more about the work Cheshire Police has undertaken to support people with dementia, or to register a friend or family member on the Herbert Protocol, visit https://www.cheshire.police.uk/advice-and-support/missing-persons/herbert-protocol/.