Doncaster passes 5,000 Dementia Friends milestone

dementiafriendsA group of volunteer knitters have helped edge Doncaster past a new dementia awareness-raising milestone.

Thorne Library’s ‘knit and natter’ group took the number of Dementia Friends in the borough through the 5,000 mark when they took part in an information session run by Wayne Goddard – pictured – from NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG).

Wayne, who is responsible for organising dementia services in Doncaster on behalf of the NHS and Doncaster Council, said: “A Dementia Friend learns a little bit more about what it’s like to live with dementia and then turns that understanding into action. Anyone of any age can become a Dementia Friend, which is a scheme launched by the Alzheimer’s Society.”

The town has notched up 5,000 Dementia Friends ahead of this year’s World Alzheimer’s Day (Monday 21 Sept 2015) and in the wake of recent fact-finding visit to the town by Professor Alistair Burns, the NHS’s national clinical director for dementia care.

He said: “I was delighted to find out that more than 5,000 residents are now Dementia Friends. This is key to helping break down the stigma and misunderstanding that often surrounds dementia. I look forward to seeing this number keep on growing as Doncaster works towards achieving its ambition of becoming a dementia friendly borough.”

The Thorne knitters, who meet every Wednesday at the Vermuyden Centre library, have been busy creating ‘twiddlemuffs’ for patients with dementia at Doncaster Royal Infirmary’s Mallard Ward. Their youngest member, Emily Pettinger, aged 10, is a pupil at Thorne Green Top School, who knits with her mum Sue Wragg.

Twiddlemuffs originated at a hospital in the north west of England, where they have been found to help stimulate patients with dementia. They are knitted woollen bands to which interesting items can be attached for the patient to ‘twiddle’ with.

After filling a box full of twiddlemuffs, the Thorne knitters wanted to know more about dementia, so Wayne went along to give them an information session and then presented each of them with a Dementia Friend badge.

He said: “Our aspiration is to create a culture of dementia friendliness in Doncaster. The most important measure is the feedback we get from people who have dementia and their carers and families. We want them to be satisfied with, not just the health and social care services they use, but also Doncaster’s wider community facilities, such as public transport, shops and businesses.

“We have growing evidence that the experience of people with dementia is getting better in Doncaster. This is partly due to the local Dementia Action Alliance, which has a membership of over 70 organisations, plus our 76 local Dementia Friends champions, who speak up for people with the disease.

“Local patient satisfaction surveys indicate more compliments and fewer complaints involving the care of people with dementia. We still have a lot to do but I’m pleased we’re heading in the right direction and Doncaster is well on its way to becoming a dementia friendly borough.”

  • For more information about becoming a Dementia Friend visit:


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