‘Dementia aware’ is not damaging

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As chair of the older people’s sub group, health and social care team for Seaton, Axminster and Sidmouth, I would like to make reference to your front page story “Let’s lose our God’s waiting room tag” (Herald, November 8).

It is admirable to encourage broader awareness training for all disabilities but I would like to respond to the comment of the council chairman suggesting that Sidmouth’s tourism may be damaged due to the town being ‘dementia friendly’.

Dementia-aware communities is an initiative that should be welcomed by all towns and cities with an increasing number of people and families being affected by the disability, which is more common in older age groups.

Sidmouth is a beautiful and vibrant town and one which attracts tourism and younger families, but I do not believe that being ‘dementia-friendly’ would lead to a negative impact on visitor numbers.

Moreover, 45 per cent of Sidmouth residents are over 65 years old* and, although mostly fit and active, dementia awareness could have a positive impact on the independence of those Sidmouth residents affected. (*Source: Knowing East Devon 2013, A Place and People Profile – East Devon District Council).


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The health and social care team meets to promote initiatives that can benefit local communities and these are often ‘cross-generational’, engaging younger people and thereby increasing everyone’s awareness and understanding of each other’s needs.

The group believes this is important for the future and Sidmouth, with its wide range of age groups, is a great place to develop these.

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Taking the opportunity to promote specific dementia-friendly initiatives would not have, in my opinion, a detrimental effect on tourism but could be very beneficial to the community of Sidmouth.

Andrew Stevens

Chair, Older People’s Sub Group

Health & Social Care Team for Seaton, Axminster and Sidmouth

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