Business leaders, charity specialists and politicians have gathered in Ipswich to launch the University of Suffolk’s pledge to become a ‘dementia-friendly organisation’.
The status is recognised by the Alzheimer’s Society, and has been made official at the University to coincide with Dementia Action Week.
Speaking at the event, which was sponsored by Gotelee Solicitors, Paul Driscoll-Evans, Dean of Health Sciences at the University, said: “Health and social care services are struggling to meet the challenge of unprecedented numbers of older people living with memory loss.
“In recognition of the impact dementia is having on communities across the East of England, the University of Suffolk aims to be a role-model organisation, actively playing a role in ensuring those living with the condition feel understood and valued.”
The University’s pledge will involve an institutional commitment to developing a Dementia Action Plan and becoming a member of the Dementia Action Alliance.
The University will focus on several key areas that seek to raise awareness, support staff and students and promote excellence in teaching and research.
Former Mayor of Ipswich and Chair of Ipswich Dementia Action Alliance, Councillor Roger Fern, addressed the audience sharing his experience of caring for his wife, Pat, who is living with dementia.
Councillor Fern said: “I think it is tremendously important the University becomes dementia-friendly, this is a community issue. We are all part of the community of Ipswich and we each bear a responsibility for those who find life a bit tough.”
As part of the event proceedings, The East of England Co-Op shared some of the ways the organisation is dementia-friendly.
Charles Rowett, Chief Executive of Gotelee Solicitors, said: “As the population ages we are going to know people and we are going to come into contact with people daily who are having to deal with dementia. More organisations have to become dementia friendly and understand what the implications are and how people need to be treated.
“Having a university within the town is extremely important, not only for the young people but for the whole community. We see ourselves very much as a relationship community organisation and we want to serve our local community; the University is a critical part of that.”