Ivybridge has been awarded ‘dementia friendly’ status.

The Four Rivers alliance gave the award to recognise the town's positive work to help those living with the condition.

Businesses and councillors have worked together.

Clear signage and having wheelchair access around the town, has contributed towards Ivybridge becoming 'dementia friendly'.

Most importantly it will increase awareness of the daily struggles those living with dementia face, and how businesses and residents can help those living with dementia around Ivybridge.

Furthermore, at the Four Rivers recent AGM, councillors from the South Hams District Council recommitted to working towards becoming dementia friendly.

Mr Ian Sherriff, Academic partnership lead for dementia at Plymouth University said: “Communities in Devon have led the way in being dementia friendly.” 

The South Hams District Council had voted in the past to work towards becoming ‘dementia friendly’ but post-pandemic the commitment had fallen away.

Chair of the Four Rivers Dementia Alliance, Liz Hitchins said: “Small steps can make a big difference for those living with dementia.”

Over 30% of those living with dementia live alone, the problems this can cause for individuals with dementia was highlighted during the lockdown period. Additionally, the impact of financial hardship, which has increased during the cost of living crisis, on those living with dementia can cause added stress and alarm.

Mr Ian Sherriff informing the alliance about the most recent developments in the care of Dementia
Mr Ian Sherriff informing the alliance about the most recent developments in the care of Dementia (Tindle)

Cllr Victor Abbott of Ivybridge Town Council and South Hams District Council said of Ivybridge gaining ‘dementia friendly’ status: “My experience of talking to shop owners and workers in Ivybridge was how many had an experience and empathy for others with Dementia; Dementia is not uncommon amongst family and friends. The principal, practical activities within the Town, are those of the Memory Café, Ivybridge Caring and Ring & Ride. There is also expertise: people trained in caring for those with Dementia, and people with training to train others.”

Cllr Abbott also commented on the work SHDC is doing to gain this same status: “As a council, we are working towards becoming Dementia Friendly. This year, we encouraged colleagues to use the link to the Alzheimer’s Society’s five-minute video on becoming a Dementia Friend, which you can find on the Alzheimer’s website at www.alzheimers.org.uk/get-involved/dementia-friendly-communities/dementia-friends. Our new website www.southhams.gov.uk is dementia friendly, along with also supporting many other neurodivergent disorders too. We have also agreed to try to make the District Council’s property and signage Dementia Friendly too.”

Sir Gary Streeter MP for South West Devon said: “I greatly welcome the increasing awareness of communities within South West Devon constituency about the importance of being dementia friendly. I congratulate the team at Ivybridge for the steps that they have taken. We all have to recognise that with an ageing population and the continued advance of dementia in older people, we all have to play our part in making sure they are understood and cared for.”