To identify the challenges and solutions facing individuals with dementia and their family carers living in rural communities, and provide solutions.

It is widely acknowledged that there are groups of people at risk living in the countryside can experience a wide range of issues including: loneliness and isolation; lack of transport; poverty; fuel poverty; broadband connectivity issues; inability to access health and social care and inadequate living conditions. The lack of appropriate services in rural communities makes life more difficult for people at risk, individuals with dementia and those who care for them.

The search for ways to enrich the quality of life for people at risk and those affected by dementia is a constant and complex one. The project chosen out of the fourteen from the Prime Minister’s Rural Dementia Task and Finish Group provide innovative solutions to these issues.

Dementia Friendly Parishes around the Yealm

Ian Sherriff B.E.M. Academic lead for Dementia Plymouth University of Plymouth Faculty of health, Medicine, Dentistry and Human Sciences, Chair of the Prime Ministers Rural Dementia Group. Mrs Liz Hitchins, Chairman, Brixton Parish Council, Devon

The 10,000 parish and town councils in England with their 100,000 local councillors are the first tier of government. In rural areas, they provide neighbourhoods, villages and towns with a democratic voice and a structure for taking local action to influence, participate and directly deliver services, contributing over £2 billion of community investment, including over £0.5 billion from their small share of council tax.

Local rural town and parish councils build strong, vibrant, and resilient communities, which deliver an ever growing, more ambitious and innovative range of activities, as well as supporting the devolution agenda and taking over more and more services, assets and facilities from principal (county, district and unitary) councils.

In recent years, local rural town and parish councils have been growing in role, profile and importance, responding positively to the social, economic and environmental needs of local communities despite limited capacity, growing demands and increasing fiscal challenges including:

  • Supporting adult social care and the NHS though social prescribing, building dementia friendly communities and reducing loneliness isolation through social networks and other projects;
  • Working with principal councils to provide and support discretionary and other services under threat from spending reductions such as libraries, public toilets, parks and open spaces and youth services;
  • Championing their local place to influence and work in partnership with other organisations and agencies
  • Using neighbourhood planning and other tools to promote housing and create sustainable communities.

The National Association of Local Councils (NALC), the national voice of local councils, has signed a strategic commitment with the Alzheimer's Society to promote dementia friendly communities across England, recognising that local councils and county associations can and do have a key role to play in achieving this. They also are supporting this paper going forward to the Rural Finance and Economic Select committee 2019.

Dementia Friendly Parishes around the Yealm is an example of parish councils working together in a rural area to promote inclusion and to reduce isolation and loneliness for people with dementia, their families and other people at risk.  This project is a collaboration between five Parish Councils in South Devon, working together to raise awareness about dementia, reduce stigma and create opportunities in their communities for people with dementia, their families and other people to have  fulfilling lives. Using the general powers of the Localism Act 2011, the five parish councils of Wembury, Brixton, Yealmpton, Newton & Noss and Holbeton are working in partnership to change and improve the lives of people with dementia, their families and other people at risk living in these parishes.

The key aims of Dementia Friendly Parishes around the Yealm are to benefit people with dementia, their families, other people at risk and the communities they live in by:-

  • Promoting individual and community based inclusive activities and services for people with dementia, their carer sand families and other individuals at risk across the  5 parishes;
  • Ensuring that people with dementia, their carers, families and other  people at risk have a voice and are able to maintain and, where necessary, increase their social contacts within their local community;
  • Developing  or contributing to the development of suitable inclusive social activities  and  services locally for people with dementia and their carers;
  • Working in collaboration with local groups and organisations;
  • Ensuring people with dementia, their carers, families and other people at risk have access to all community activities.

It empowers people with dementia, their carers and other individuals at risk to remain in their own community with support, to reduce unnecessary and disruptive admissions to hospital, or unplanned respite and emergency call outs.

Ian Sherriff B.E.M. Academic lead for Dementia Plymouth University faculty of Health, Medicine, Dentistry and Human Sciences

Mrs Liz Hitchins, Chairman, Brixton Parish Council, Devon


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