Worrying changes nothing, Talking changes everything

PCSO Kirsty Johnson has been in touch to explain how we can all help dementia sufferers:

PCSO Kirsty Johnston 2As a PCSO (Police Community Support Officer) in Beeston, when I arrive at someone’s house I am expected to know exactly what to do, how to deal with a situation and which other agencies I can contact  for more help with any given situation.  Generally this is definitely the case and I have been astounded at the number of possibilities for offering support in most situations.

There have only been a few instances in the last five years where this has not been the case and unfortunately they have all been similar situations.  Actually, as well as not knowing how to get help for people who I believed may have dementia, I am ashamed to say that I just did not know how to behave around them!

Of course, as with any member of the public I treated them with courtesy and respect but on quite a few occasions the police had been called because they were distressed…..a couple of times because of something they believed they had seen. But what to do – do I agree with them?  Do I disagree and try to tell them nothing is there?  Quite often it also seemed that their neighbours were worried because they didn’t know if they had been diagnosed, if their family were aware or if they had any support.

That’s why when I heard about the Alzheimer’s Society launching ‘Dementia Friends’ last November I was immediately interested in getting involved and couldn’t wait to find out more!

After much anticipation a session was announced in Leeds and I was very excited 2 weeks ago to be able to go and learn more about how I could make a positive part of helping to improve people’s day to day lives.  I had decided that in my job role I was very lucky to be able to reach many groups of people and became a Dementia Friends Champion.  Basically my role is to encourage others to make a positive difference to people living with dementia in their community by giving them information about the impact of dementia, and what they can do to help.

What I found most positive is the message that no action which makes our communities more Dementia Friendly is too small……just helping someone catch the right bus could make a massive difference to their day!

I have spent the last few weeks since the training researching lots of information about Dementia and planning how I can give some informative and fun sessions to lots of different groups in my area so my ‘plan’ is almost hatched.

19th-25th May is Dementia Awareness Week so I would like to speak to as many people as possible by then…..so what do you think?  Could you spare me an hour to find out more about something which is more likely to affect all of us as the population lives longer?  Why not suggest a local meeting place that would be convenient for me to come and speak….I will fit in with your plans as much as possible – what about after a Mums & Tots group or even with your colleagues at your workplace?  Other than this one hour there are no ongoing commitments other than to take one practical action….that could be just telling your friends about the scheme!

You can e-mail me at Kirsty.Johnson@westyorkshire.pnn.police.uk or send me a message via Facebook at www.facebook.com/HolbeckNPTLeeds – I look forward to hearing from you all!