‘Purple Angels’ raise dementia awareness in Wrexham
Caring Times, March 2014
A campaign has been launched to turn Wrexham into the first dementia-friendly town in Wales.
The idea is being championed by the Pendine Park care organisation after it was suggested by a member of staff, activities and well-being co-ordinator Anita Moran.
The aim the Purple Angels campaign is to raise awareness with local shops and other businesses, providing them with a simple training manual so that they are better equipped to recognise the symptoms of dementia and respond accordingly. Businesses that sign up to the scheme will then display posters and stickers with the Purple Angels logo to signify that they are dementia aware.
Pendine Park is a pioneer in dementia care and was recently recognised for the most outstanding dementia care innovation in the world in 2013.at the Globals, an international awards ceremony organised by the influential Over 50s Housing group.
Proprietor Mario Kreft MBE said: “We think the Purple Angels campaign is a brilliant idea and I am grateful to Anita for giving us the impetus.
“Through no fault of their own, a number of shopkeepers are ill-prepared to respond appropriately if they have to serve a person with dementia who may well be confused and difficult to deal with. We are very enthusiastic about the idea of turning Wrexham into the first properly dementia-friendly town in the UK.
“I was originally inspired to become involved in the care sector because of the trouble we had in finding suitable care home for my grandparents. My grandmother had Alizheimer’s so the Purple Angels campaign also has a personal resonance.”
Anita Moran, who works at Pendine Park’s Hillbury care home, is the first person in Wales to become an ambassador the worldwide Purple Angel campaign. Her colleague, Chris Hodge, who works as a teacher with Pendine Park’s in-house training company, Smartcare Teaching Care Centre, has now also become an ambassador. Anita was inspired to join the Purple Angels campaign, which has spread to 79 countries, by the experience of her late father Barry. She said: “My dad was actually sectioned under the Mental Health Act, and that was the first we knew that he had dementia.
“None of us had realised, we just thought he was getting older. We realised about four years ago. He went into a home and because he’d had it so long he was getting to the later stages by the time we found out. He just hid it so well.”
The truth dawned on Anita the day her late mother, Jean, had a heart attack. Anita said: “My sister phoned the ambulance. She went to the hospital, and the next morning my sister went round to see my dad and he couldn’t remember where he was.
“He couldn’t remember the paramedics being there. He thought my mum had left him.
“My sister went off and came back and he’d disappeared. To this day we don’t know how, he got from Buckley to Wrexham with no money.
“Police helicopters were out looking for him. He was found wandering the streets of Wrexham. I think it was about 11 at night. We had to go to a police station to pick him up. He couldn’t remember anything.”
The campaign is being backed by Pendine Park which opened Bodlondeb, an award-winning £4 million centre of excellence for dementia care, in 2010.
Tracey Green, the Enrichment Project Leader at Pendine Park, also paid tribute to Anita’s role in getting things moving. She said: “Pendine Park is now involved and is supporting the campaign. Obviously the more people that are involved the more scope there is to get the message out. It’s all snowballed from there.”
Dementia is a common condition that affects about 800,000 people in the UK. It is a syndrome associated with an on-going decline of the brain and its abilities. This includes problems with, memory loss, thinking speed, mental agility, language, understanding and judgement. Anita explained how the Purple Angel campaign works: “We are going round shops handing out the posters. We get the shops to agree to read this simple training, and we go back a week later and award a sticker saying the shop is dementia aware. It’s that simple.
There are 21 shops in Wrexham who have the Purple Angel sign in their window so far. Anita added: “If someone goes into a shop, and is for example having trouble with their money, the shopkeeper might think that person is drunk. There are hundreds of things that they might think. But it could be dementia, so it’s just making them aware of that.
“The campaign will help everybody out there with dementia to have a better experience when they go out shopping. If there’s a Purple Angel in the window. If I was caring for my dad and I wanted to go to a shop, I would go to one with a Purple Angel in the window because I know the staff there will be more dementia aware.
“The Wrexham area is my patch to start with but we’re spreading out.”
The Purple Angel dementia awareness campaign was started by Norman McNamara from Torquay who was diagnosed with dementia in 2008 at the age of 50. Norman and his wife Elaine were instrumental in establishing the first dementia friendly community in the world.Anita added: “The response to the Purple Angel campaign has been fantastic. It’s surprising, most people you meet, whether its their mum, their dad, their auntie, their uncle, their grand dad, they know someone who’s got dementia.
“It’s a cause close to my heat and a lot of other people’s, and I think that’s why it’s taking off the way it is. We’re not asking for anything. We’re not asking for money. All we ask is for five minutes of your time to read the poster and that’s it. And it has affected a lot of people.”
To find out more about the Purple Angels campaign please visit http://www.purpleangel.org.uk/ or contact Anita Moran at Pendine Park on 01978 720242.