Drive to find 250 dementia ambassadors
A NETWORK of "dementia ambassadors" are set to be recruited across Hull to help promote awareness of the condition.
It is hoped up to 250 people from all walks of life will volunteer for the new role.
The move is part of a wider drive by council and health officials to tackle issues surrounding the condition.
Early identification and diagnosis rates in Hull are low compared with other areas.
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Latest figures show just over 1,000 people in Hull have been officially diagnosed with dementia by their GP.
But it is thought the number of people with different stages of the condition who have not been diagnosed could be at least seven times higher.
Just over 6,000 people in the neighbouring East Riding are diagnosed with dementia.
Clare Brown, the city council's assistant head of adult social care, said the idea of having a network of ambassadors was seen as a way of spreading knowledge about the condition.
She said: "The ambassadors will influence how people with dementia, their carers and families live because they will be able to provide understanding, help and support.
"It's well documented that small changes to the way people with dementia are cared for can help outcomes."
The creation of a network of volunteer ambassadors follows the launch of the Hull Dementia Academy initiative last year.
That introduced the concept of a single point of access for those who live and work with people with dementia, providing information and training opportunities.
An initial programme saw 14 people in different organisations ranging from the council to the police and fire services being trained to act as trainers in their own workplaces.
Mrs Brown said rolling out the scheme to recruit 250 ambassadors across the city was the next step.
"The ambassadors will support colleagues and encourage positive attitudes," she said.
"It's really about changing the culture of how we see and live with older people."
Speaking at a council health scrutiny meeting, she said the challenges of meeting the needs of an ageing population were likely to put a strain on available resources.
"We are expecting an increasing demand for services linked to dementia care," said Mrs Brown.
"If we identify more people with dementia through early diagnosis then support can be put in place at an earlier stage.
"That in turn influences the cost of long-term care because we can make a more effective use of resources by being able to support carers and families.
"We know hospitals are not good places for people with dementia.
"If we can support people at home where most people prefer to be, it is a much better long-term option than residential care, which we all know can be very expensive."