Hartlepool will be keeping all fingers crossed on Wednesday night for the finals of the Alzheimer’s Society Awards 2017 in London.
Thanks to the valuable work of local charity Dementia Friendly Hartlepool and Hospital of God’s dementia care and support service, The Bridge, the town has now been declared a national finalist in the Alzheimer’s Society Awards’ ‘Dementia-Friendly Community of the Year’ category.
Hartlepool is very lucky in terms of the services it is able to offer to those with dementia. The Bridge, located at the Gemini Centre on Villiers Street, was established by Hospital of God and Hartlepool Borough Council to support the 1,200 people in the town who are living with dementia and memory loss.
The centre, run by Hospital of God is a free service open to all, serving an average of 20 people each day. As the only known centre of its kind anywhere in the country, The Bridge is designed to bridge the gap between all dementia support services currently available, so once an initial diagnosis has been obtained, people living with dementia and memory loss can head straight to The Bridge for all ongoing support.
Services at The Bridge include neurologist meetings with specialists from The James Cook University Hospital, early-onset cognitive stimulation treatment and meetings with specialist advisors who can help them make adjustments to live more easily with the condition as it progresses. The Hospital of God also offers other support services including day care, a memory café, community pastimes, home-from-hospital rehabilitation and carer support.
So far, The Bridge resource has proved incredibly popular, and earlier this year, The Bridge’s own ‘Our Voice Matters’ user group released an awareness film coinciding with Dementia Awareness Week, appealing to members of the public, social workers, local businesses, shops and cafés to sign up to become Dementia Friendly.
Such was the film’s success that The Bridge has now gathered over 50 corporate Dementia Friendly businesses and organisations. Dementia Friendly Hartlepool has also gathered 3,842 dementia friends, 37 dementia friend champions, 11 primary schools, three secondary schools and one college involved in Dementia Friend activities and the number of supporters continues to grow.
“We are delighted that Hartlepool has been nominated for Dementia Friendly Community of the Year,” says David Granath, Hospital of God’s Director.
“Dementia Friendly Hartlepool, The Bridge, and so many other partner organisations have striven to remove the stigma and taboo that those living with dementia and memory loss, and to provide a central resource in Hartlepool that people canunite around. We are over the moon to see our efforts recognised in this way.”
Hartlepool resident and The Bridge user Eric Hughes adds:
“Going to London for the awards ceremony is really exciting. We thought being nominated for the video was great, but to get shortlisted was just WOW! I’m over the moon.
“The Bridge has literally given me my life back. It's not only me that will say that, other people will too. Previously I was mostly housebound unless my wife was off work. The girls here are all brilliant and liaise with a myriad of services to provide what you need. I love them to bits for all they do, nothing is too much trouble for them.
“Being shortlisted for the community award is fantastic recognition for dementia care in Hartlepool. It is a vindication for all the organisations and services that contribute to Dementia Friendly Hartlepool. I believe Hartlepool would provide a great model for other towns and cities to follow.”
Eric Hughes and his wife, Laura Robinson manager of The Bridge and Caroline Ryder Jones Occupational Therapist will be making their way to London on Wednesday 29th November for the Alzheimer’s Society award ceremony at County Hall, London, presented by Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Angela Rippon.