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Thousands in South West to be trained to spot signs of Alzheimer's

By Western Morning News  |  Posted: November 09, 2012

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An army of 'Dementia Friends' is to be recruited across the South West as part of the nation's biggest ever call to action on care for the disease.

A new scheme unveiled by the Government will see thousands of people undergo training to spot early signs of the condition and help those already suffering.

Norman McNamara, of Torquay, who was diagnosed with the disease four years ago, went to Downing Street yesterday for the official launch with Prime Minister David Cameron.

Mr McNamara, 54, said: "People are petrified of dementia. I have dementia and I'm petrified of it. But this will help break down barriers and help people understand it better.

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"Some 30 years ago, people didn't talk about cancer and 20 years ago people didn't talk about AIDS and HIV. Nowadays people don't want to talk about dementia.

"I think this scheme will get people talking about dementia."

Mr McNamara, a retired DIY store manager, suffers from the Lewy Bodies variant of Alzheimer's Disease, a form of dementia, and founded the campaign group Torbay Dementia Action Alliance.

The organisation has won praise from Mr Cameron, who earlier this year launched the Prime Minister's Challenge on Dementia.

He hopes that by 2015, one million people will become Dementia Friends by volunteering to support people in their community.

As well as Mr McNamara's initiative, which has already signed up 160 businesses in Torbay, the Government highlighted the work of five parishes surrounding the River Yealm in Plymouth who have raised enough money to employ someone to deliver dementia training to staff in local shops and organisations.

In Cornwall, the Kernow Clinical Commissioning Group, which is taking over health commissioning, is to receive more than £500,000 of funding from the Dementia Challenge to improve care in residential and nursing homes.

Chairman Dr Colin Philip, said he was delighted with the news: "I do hope this can make a real difference to those individuals and families but also to Cornwall as a whole, perhaps enabling significantly better management of patients and the avoidance of unnecessary spells in hospitals that we all aspire to."

To become a Dementia Friend visit www.dementia friends.org.uk or text Friend to 88080.

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