Plymouth now has two car parks with designated ‘Dementia Friendly’ parking spaces which are thought to be the first of their kind in the UK.
Following consultation with carers who expressed frustration about the difficulties they face in parking, Plymouth City Council’s parking unit has introduced some new dementia accessible parking spaces in two of its car parks.
The car parks are the latest move by the Council and partners to make the city more dementia friendly and Plymouth has previously been recognised by the Alzheimer’s Society as one of the cities making good progress towards becoming dementia friendly. The Dementia Friendly Plymouth initiative is co-ordinated by a partnership of Plymouth City Council and the Plymouth Dementia Action Alliance (PDAA).
The Council has made changes to signage and allocated two designated ‘dementia friendly’ spaces in both Western Approach and Theatre Royal car parks. The spaces are on entry level and close to the ticket machines and pedestrian exits, with the aim of helping carers access and enjoy activities with their loved one with dementia in the city centre. Staff in the parking team also have an increased understanding of dementia after attending awareness sessions over the past few months.
Councillor Ian Tuffin, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care for Plymouth City Council, said: “The Council welcomes this suggestion from the public to improve our dementia friendly city awareness and improve our services in this way.
“As a council we are committed to working with our partners to help Plymouth to become a more Dementia Friendly city. This supports our aim of being a co-operative city where everyone does their bit. I would particularly like to thank Claire Puckey who coordinates all our Dementia Friendly work at the Council, and also the parking team, for making this happen.”
Councillor Brian Vincent, Cabinet Member for Streetscene for Plymouth City Council, said: “We aim to make our car parks as accessible as possible and we are delighted to be able to introduce this new scheme in Plymouth.”
Lee Sewrey, Carers Hub Manager said: “It is amazing that this idea was suggested by a carer in a focus group held at Plymouth Guild last year and now it has been made a reality! I’m sure that this will enable lots of carers who care for someone with dementia to be able to access local facilities more often without it being too problematic for them and their loved one.”
Ian Sherriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia, Plymouth University Peninsula Schools of Medicine and Dentistry said: “As someone who is totally committed to helping our society tackle the many challenges that people with dementia and their carers face daily, I am really excited about the news that Plymouth City Council’s parking department have allocated a number of car spaces designated to carers of people with dementia. The Plymouth Dementia Action Alliance has been informed by carers and people with dementia of the issues and challenges they face when parking a car in the city centre. There is widespread recognition at the highest level of government about the present and potential future impacts of dementia. The search for ways to enhance the quality of life for those affected is a constant and complex one. This innovative approach by Plymouth City Council will provide and ensure that the experience of using the city car parks will be Dementia Friendly”
The PDAA has an ever-growing membership of organisations from a wide variety of sectors across the city, such as: healthcare, emergency services, transport, education, defence, legal services, charities, faith groups etc. Over the last year, it has welcomed new members from the retail, finance, health and leisure sectors and work continues to encourage this involvement.
At present, there are over 3,000 people with a diagnosis of dementia, living in Plymouth and this figure is predicted to rise to approximately 3624 by 2020. It is vital to keep the momentum going and Plymouth City Council has a Dementia Friendly Toolkit to provide organisations with guidance and information on how to become more Dementia Friendly. This can be downloaded from the Council website at: www.plymouth.gov.uk/dementia
If you would like to find out more about the Dementia Friendly work in Plymouth and how your organisation can get involved, including details of the forthcoming City Centre Dementia Awareness Day on the 24th of February on the city centre piazza (10am-4pm), please contact the Dementia Friendly City Co-ordinator, Claire Puckey, on 01752 398922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also sign up to be a Dementia Friend. The Alzheimer’s Society aims to create 4 million dementia friends by 2020. For more information visit: www.dementiafriends.org.uk