I am delighted to be asked to write for Brodies’ Personal blog as part of Dementia Awareness Week. Scotland’s Dementia Awareness Week runs from 4-10 June 2018 and this year, Alzheimer Scotland is focusing on making sure nobody faces dementia alone. It’s vital that people living with dementia feel recognised, valued and supported in their local communities. We are committed to providing a wide-range of dementia-specific support and to being a force for change across all levels in society.

Scotland’s local communities are at the centre of everything we do. In our localities (which largely mirror the boundaries of local authorities), our goal is to provide and maintain a Dementia Resource Centre, Dementia Advisor, Community Activity Organiser and a Volunteer Co-ordinator. This range of support, funded by donations to Alzheimer Scotland, has a truly remarkable impact. We have seen communities start to shake off the stigma associated with dementia, as people walk into our Dementia Resource Centres for information and advice about the condition. Our Dementia Advisors help people with all aspects of the illness; from getting a diagnosis, to living well in their own home, to making decisions about end of life. Our community-based activities are helping people with dementia to feel good about themselves and maintain connections (as well as making new ones); avoiding the isolation and loneliness that all too common for people living with dementia. We work closely with carers, linking them with peer support networks and providing useful learning opportunities. Our wonderful volunteers help to make this possible; supporting all aspects of our work with incredible enthusiasm and dedication.

At the very heart of our localities are people with dementia and those who care for them, our members and campaigners. We have a long-term focus on supporting a strong collective voice with these groups, to push for action on the key commitments of Scotland’s National Dementia Strategy that must be delivered at local level.

All of the 32 localities have a Dementia Advisor, we have opened 16 Dementia Resource Centres, and we now have 29 Community Activity Organisers and 10 Volunteer Co-ordinators. We also need people to follow in the footsteps of many individuals in Brodies’ Personal team and join our growing movement of fantastic Dementia Friends. Anybody can become a Scottish Dementia Friend, it’s just about understanding a bit more about dementia and the small things you can do to help people with the condition. This could be helping someone find the right bus, or being patient in a shop queue if someone with dementia is taking longer to pay. Every action counts.

Our vision is clear, but there is still much work to be done. We truly believe that our commitment to local care and support, focused in Scotland’s communities, will go a very long way to overcoming the isolation and disconnection faced by many people with dementia and carers. It is the basis from which people can live well with dementia and continue to thrive within their community for as long as possible. If you want to find out more about how we can support you, or someone close to you, please call our 24 hour, Freephone Dementia Helpline on 0808 808 3000 or visit www.alzscot.org. You can also support Alzheimer Scotland and Dementia Awareness Week by heading to daw.alzscot.org.