The Plymouth Dementia Conference

4 March 2016


People starting the registration process from 8am and the Conference started at 9am promptly.  It was opened by the very lovely Angela Rippon, who has been a long standing ambassador for the Alzheimer’s Society.  Angela was followed by a speech from Ian Sherriff welcoming everyone and thanking those people who had worked hard, but were not up on the stage.


We had speeches from Jeremy Hughes CEO of the Alzheimer’s Society about the status of Plymouth as a national and world leader in dementia friendly communities.  He talked about the future and how this is changing, as the idea that it is possible to live well with dementia is being highlighted.  We can always do better and learn more though, we never stop learning, which is a lesson that is true about life in general!  He made the point that we signpost where the toilets are, but do we always signpost how to get out once we have found them?!


We next heard from Hilary Doxford, the international ambassador and a person living with dementia.  She was incredibly eloquent in asking for what she sees as important and she surely must be right.  She has studied the work done by different communities and praised Scotland for the work that they are doing.  She also said that she would choose to live in the dementia communities in the Netherlands, they welcome the outside world in, but it is a community set up for people living with dementia.  Within the community, they continue to support people to live “ordinary lives”, so rather than carers do everything for them, they are expected to do things for themselves for as long as possible.  Hilary then told us that as a result the people in this community on average spend only the last 2 weeks of their lives in bed!


The next people on the stage were the air transport group.  We heard from amongst others Gatwick Airport, Dr Alison Warren, an academic OT, Andy Wilkins from Virtual Jets in Chudleigh and the Civil Aviation Authority.  They talked about the work that they are doing all doing, which both separately and collectively is making things better for people living with hidden disabilities, including dementia.


The Conference then broke up into the various workshops and I was presenting in the Rural one about GPS trackers.  I talked about how it is not an abuse of human rights, as long as the person is not tracked oppressively, as they are entitled to a private life – we all are!  It is only when the right to life is at risk that tracking is appropriate.


We then had lunch and the afternoon commenced.  We heard from BBC radio 4, the talking project asking for more participants to talk about living with dementia.  There was a beautiful song written about someone living with dementia and Trevor Jarvis or should I say Dr Trevor Jarvis (he has been given an honorary doctorate for his work in raising awareness for dementia).  He was warm, funny and kind.  Afterwards his son tweeted me to say how much he gets from this work, he was awesome.


We had question and answers and then the conference broke up and everyone left with their goody bags, which hopefully they will use in the future, which raises the profile of dementia friendly communities in Plymouth.


A great conference and I was proud to take part!