A Dementia Friendly Parliament: One year on

Steve Howard, Superintendent at LloydsPharmacy, Celesio UK

I was delighted to be invited to speak at Alzheimer’s Society’s first anniversary of their Dementia Friendly Parliament initiative last week. Hosted in the Speaker’s House in Westminster I was impressed at how grand the venue was, and equally impressed with the large number of MPs interested in how we can take the Dementia Friends initiative further.

The purpose of the event wasn’t just for celebrating how far the Dementia Friends movement has come, it was also about raising awareness to the whole of Westminster; MPs, their teams, and all colleagues who work at Parliament. There is an ambition that one day soon we will have the world’s first true Dementia Friendly parliament, and our country is being led by people who have a greater understanding of a condition which is only increasing.

My speech focused on the work we have been doing across Celesio UK, promoting Dementia Friends to all of our colleagues, and helping them to understand how increasing their own knowledge of the condition can help patients and customers every day throughout the business.

We understand though that there is more we can do which is why we chose Alzheimer’s Society and Alzheimer Scotland as our national charity partners. We believe that not only our community pharmacy colleagues but everyone within our organisation, as well as within their families, social circles and wider communities, should have a greater understanding of dementia. Our partnership with Alzheimer’s Society fits entirely with our belief in inspiring positive lives, reflecting the care and respect we show to our customers and patients every day.

On the day of the event I was inspired by Hilary Doxford, an Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador, who lives with the condition. She spoke of her own experience, and I was impressed by her determination to make a true change for everyone living with dementia, both patients and their carers, rather than focusing on her own needs for the future. Debbie Abrahams MP, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Dementia, also spoke about the changes she was making in her own constituency to help those living with dementia live well.

The number of people living with dementia is expected to grow to one million by 2025; it’s time to act, improving the lives and wellbeing of those living with the condition, which is why it’s important, not only for MPs and Parliament to become Dementia Friends, but society and communities as a whole to get behind the initiative and raise their own awareness of the condition.