Dementia is a topic that frequently hits the headlines. It touches the lives of very many people. There are now technological advances such as the latest development from Stirling University, an app to help people adapt environments to become dementia friendly, click here for details. In addition, there are research organisations working tirelessly to find medical interventions to slow the progress of dementia or prevent it altogether. Such work is undoubtedly key to ensuring that future generations have a different experience of dementia.  However, these advances are usually the domain of experts and often take a while to have an impact. So what can we do now, within our local community, to improve the lives of people living with dementia?
We can listen to people living with dementia about what changes would make York a better place for them now. We can collaborate with others to make sure we do this together, effectively. We can ensure we keep learning and sharing good practice.
York Dementia Action Alliance (YDAA) exists to do all of this. It is a diverse network of partners including people living with dementia, businesses, statutory organisations and voluntary communities. Part of the legacy of a Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) project, ‘Dementia Without Walls’, YDAA works together to make York a good place for people with dementia to live, enabling people to live well within their communities.
An example involves GPs in York. Following a report from Healthwatch and listening to people across York, we heard that the experience of diagnosis by a GP was often not as it should be for people living with dementia. YDAA decided to make this a priority action as this has been consistently reported. Everyone has the right to health care, and as  a newly declared Human Rights City, we are determined for this right to be upheld here in York. We are working with the CCG and GP practices to help them to become more aware of the available options for support and signposting. Recently York CCG hosted a clinical event for York GPs to develop their understanding of diagnosing dementia. Importantly, people living with dementia from Minds and Voices, a local forum, were there to remind GPs why a good experience at their local surgery really matters. Local charities also attended to share their knowledge; Healthwatch launched their acclaimed guide to dementia services and support in York. This coordinated approach to both challenge and improvement as a result of listening to people is what YDAA is all about. Working towards the common goal of improving York as a community for people living with dementia right here, right now.

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