Emergency services pledge dementia action

Tuesday 4th June 2019

Scotland’s fire, police and ambulance services have pledged to make their services dementia-friendly.

Attending Alzheimer Scotland’s annual conference this week, Scotland’s emergency services have joined forces to collectively sign the 2025 dementia pledge as part of dementia awareness week 2019.

There are around 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland and it is now estimated that 20,000 people will be diagnosed with the condition every year by 2020.

The pledge commits the collaborative to ‘ensure emergency services staff collectively have the knowledge, skills and understanding to recognise and support people living with dementia before, during and after and emergency incident’.

The dementia and emergency services collaborative came together in 2017, made up of representatives from the Alzheimer Scotland centre for policy and practice at the University of the West of Scotland; the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service; Police Scotland; the Scottish Ambulance Service, and Alzheimer Scotland.

This early commitment provided opportunities for emergency services employees to learn more about dementia and understand how to respond to people living with dementia in emergency situations.

To date 175 dementia information sessions have taken place with over 1,350 emergency services staff becoming ‘dementia friends’.

The 2025 dementia pledge builds on the commitment of the initial collaborative, by committing Scotland’s emergency services to help improve the safety and wellbeing of people living with dementia, their families and carers.

Claire Pearce, director of care quality & strategic development at the Scottish Ambulance Service, said:

“Signing this pledge is a significant step for the Emergency Services Collaborative. We recognise the significant impact of dementia on both individuals and society and are committed to improving the safety and wellbeing of those with the condition.

“This milestone today reflects the need for a more cohesive approach to staff training within the three services and a joint strategy which ensures that those diagnosed with dementia and their carers receive the appropriate response when required.”

The pledge has been brought together through collaboration with people living with dementia in consultation with the Scottish dementia working group.

Professor Debbie Tolson, director of the Alzheimer Scotland centre for policy and practice, said: “The experience of dementia compounds the sense of vulnerability and bewilderment that accompany the unexpected. Understanding how to support and protect someone when they are at their most vulnerable requires understanding, dementia sensitive approaches, coupled with rapid decision making and effective actions. 

“This pledge signals a commitment to equip first responders to be confident and capable in their work with people with dementia both in the moment of crisis and through preventative interventions.”

As part of the pledge, Scotland’s emergency services have also committed to ‘work towards becoming dementia-friendly employers to help support colleagues who become carers or support those who themselves develop dementia’.

Henry Simmons, chief executive of Alzheimer Scotland, said:

“With over 90,000 people with dementia in Scotland, almost every family now knows someone living with the illness, yet many people do not understand what the condition is, and what impact it has on those who live with it.

“All organisations and communities have an important part to play to help transform the lives of people with dementia, by helping to improve awareness of dementia, increase community support and help towards reducing isolation and stigma.

“I am enormously proud that our partners from Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice, University West of Scotland, together with the emergency services are standing together for Dementia Awareness Week, to sign this important dementia pledge.

“The pledge will go some way to help us create an understanding dementia-friendly society in Scotland, where people with dementia feel recognised, valued and supported.”

 

Pictured: Claire Pearce, director for the care, quality and strategic development, Scottish Ambulance Service; Gillian MacDonald, Assistant Chief Constable Police Scotland; Henry Simmons, Chief Executive, Alzheimer Scotland; Ross Haggart, Assistant Chief Officer, director of prevention and protection, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service; Tommy Petillo, Lead, Alzheimer Scotland Purple Alert; Professor Debbie Tolson, director Alzheimer Scotland centre for policy and practice University of the West of Scotland.