Dementia testing and public awareness
The Government's 'Dementia Friends' scheme has caused some controversy amongst the public with concerns that automatic testing and public worker awareness training could be a mis-step. What do you think?
In November 2012, the Government talked of a new strategy for the UK’s dementia sufferers. Concerned that there wasn’t enough social awareness to meet the prevalence of dementia, David Cameron and Jeremy Hunt have proposed a new ‘Dementia Friends’ scheme.
Plans include GPs to start memory testing at every GP appointment for those between 65 and 74 and basic training for one million people to learn about simple identification and assistance to those appear to need extra help.
Controversially, plans for training also include bank and shop workers, sparking alarm that these workers will essentially be monitoring people for signs of dementia. Those concerned with civil liberties seem worried that the training will be insufficient, leading to incorrect assessments, totalitarian-style reporting of people suspected to be suffering and a general fudging of the issue at hand.
The Dementia Friends site doesn’t make it sound like 1984 is upon us just yet; indeed, the focus is much more concerned with educating the public to have more patience with dementia sufferers and appreciating the barriers to communication that someone with dementia may have. For instance, Trevor Jarvis blogged for Dementia Friends to talk about an instance in the bank where he forgot how to deposit money but upon asking for assistance was directed to a written sign – completely inappropriate for someone with his level of dementia and leading to even more confusion.
We’re interested to know what you think, especially those of you who work specifically with the elderly and those suffering from dementia. Will this be a positive move forward for society in terms of education and compassion? Is dementia too complicated a subject for this to be truly helpful, best left to the professionals? Or are you merely concerned that this will lead to a lot of bruised egos and red faces? As they say, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing. Let us know now on our Facebook page , Google+ page or with a tweet.
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