Purley is now a friend to dementia sufferers

By - Thursday 5th January, 2017

The town in southern Croydon has earned dementia-friendly status, but what does this entail?

Photo public domain.

Purley is a unique community. It has independent shops and cafes, numerous charity shops, estate agents, and a large superstore. It all makes for an eclectic mix of visitors to the town centre.

There are many people who visit Purley town centre who are living with dementia. I have observed them attending our lovely local cafes and shops, going about their daily business, but forgetting their PIN numbers, trying to pay more than once, or simply forgetting where they are and why they are there.

We are very lucky to have store owners and staff who are patient and welcoming, and want to make the area safe and pleasant for everyone. Purley BID (Business Improvement District) wants to expand on the general kindness of our local community, and make Purley officially a ‘Dementia Friendly Town’. In conjunction with the Alzheimer’s Society and their Dementia Friends initiative, we hope to make dementia awareness sessions available to all local business owners and their staff.

We want people living with dementia to maintain their independence and diginity for as long as possible

We want to credit these local people who care about their community and their customers. We want people living with dementia to maintain their independence and diginity for as long as possible. We want to create a synergy between them, their carers and the town and set a precedent for the rest of Croydon.

There are initiatives across the country to acknowledge stores that are dementia friendly, where members of staff have undergone dementia awareness sessions and are classed as dementia friendly. We believe that this will make an outing a much more pleasant experience for someone living with dementia and reassure their carers that they are safe and will be welcomed.

We all know someone who has been affected by dementia. Whether this is a family member, a friend or a colleague, it is still clear how vulnerable this can make them.

Dementia friendly status offers families the reassurance that their relatives will not be taken advantage of

My first memory of dementia is when my Grandad was living with it. He became quite isolated and was taken into hospital for psychiatric evaluation. I remember going to see him in hospital, but I don’t know if he knew who I was, where he was, or even what year it was. Often he couldn’t communicate effectively and lost the ability to perform the most basic of tasks. Other times he seemed totally ‘with it’ and even asked my parents to take flowers and chocolates to my Granny for Mother’s Day. Sadly, he never left hospital.

In recent years I have realised just how vulnerable that made him, how easy it would be for people to take advantage of others living with dementia. You may have encountered these concerns for your own family and friends.

Having a community with dementia friendly status will offer families the reassurance that their relatives will be welcomed and not taken advantage of. It will mean that people living with dementia can live well in Purley.

Sophie Clark

Sophie Clark

Sophie is an experienced Funeral Arranger in Purley. She sits on the board of Purley BID and is the liaison for Safer Streets in Purley and Businesses on High Street in Purley.

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  • Tessa Bryan

    Hi. Could you expand on this? What is the process of becoming officially recognised as a Dementia Friendly community, and has the ball already started rolling?