WATCH: Dementia Action Week (Alwyn Jones Interview)

Alywn Jones interview transcript

LG: Hi again everybody. It’s Luke again and it’s Dementia Action Week still. I’m coming to you with another interview today if you’ve been watching previous ones, we’ve been speaking to some carers in our community, some very, very special guests and today is no different. I’m joined by Chief Officer for Social Care in Wrexham County Borough Council, Mr Alwyn Jones, hello Alwyn, How are you?

AJ: Hiya, good morning Luke, how are you? I’m very well thank you.

LG: Good, good, thanks for joining us today. As you’re probably aware, like I just said, it is Dementia Action Week and we’re bringing together some special guests for interviews such as this which you’ve kindly offered to do with the idea being asking five different people the same three questions to show the theory like we like to tell everybody that if you’ve met one person living with dementia, you’ve only met one person living with dementia. With that in mind, I’ll ask my first question to you which is tell us about yourself really, what’s your involvement and story with dementia?

AJ: Thank you very much, so my name is Alwyn Jones and I’m the Chief Officer for Social Care here in Wrexham. I think as a council it’s really important that we’re able to show that we have a very strong commitment for those people living with dementia and their carers and we make sure that Wrexham is actually a good place, a safe place for people with dementia to be able to live and that they can continue to live as independently as possible. So that we’re in a position where we can provide the right information, the right advice at the right time. Clearly, as the chief officer for social care, I’ve got a responsibility to make sure that when we need to give statutory services and support to both individuals with dementia and carers that we’re able to do that in a timely way but actually also really importantly, what we do as a council is really important is that we’re actually able to put in place support for people from diagnosis, support for people within the community and as I said that we actually produce a Wrexham that is safe for people to live in. I think I’m really pleased to say that we’ve successfully achieved the status of working towards being a dementia friendly authority and that’s for the third year running and that’s from the Alzheimer’s Society who gave us that status and I think that’s because we’ve been able to demonstrate that the changes we are making to the services for people with dementia across Wrexham and making sure that access is actually smooth and easy for people to get that sort of support. In essence, Luke, my role is that I oversee social care services here. We clearly are in a position where we need to be supporting people with dementia whether that is simply support, guidance, help or whether that’s where we need to put formal services and support in place for the individual with dementia or their carers.

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LG: It’s brilliant that you’ve touched upon that achievement for the third year running, I’ve actually written a story about that which will be going out as well and it’s nice to be a part of and going out myself and doing the awareness sessions with members of staff to bring that and it’s a really good achievement that we’ve done for the third year running especially since we’ve had the pandemic in mind but things like the dementia awareness sessions and dementia awareness weeks that’s going on, how important do you feel that campaigns like that are happening and how vital do you think they are in the community?

AJ: I think they’re really important to be honest with you. Raising the awareness of people living with dementia and trying to remove some of that stigma and maybe some of the negativity that there is associated with people living with dementia is really, really important. We need in a very safe and appropriate way to be able to give people the opportunity to learn more about dementia and the differences that we can make both as an individual, as an authority and as a member of the community that we can actually make to the lives of people living with dementia so it’s really important that we do actually raise that awareness to reduce the stigma. There’s obviously going to be the Dementia Action Week between the 16th and 22nd May and that’s a real opportunity for us to share the work that we’ve achieved so far as an authority. Social care staff who we currently have as Dementia Friends Champions have completed a number of dementia friendly sessions with local schools who are really important to building upon a generation of young people who have an understanding of the needs of people living with dementia so actually, when they become adults, and when they become older, that stigma that we’re talking about actually is less felt, it’s not there in the same sort of way and what we have is a more educated society. In very simple terms Luke, it’s really, really important we raise awareness, not just of our staff, of the community and people in local businesses so that actually living with dementia becomes easier, there is less stigma associated with it.

LG: Definitely, definitely, and that’s spot on, I couldn’t agree more there and, with that in mind, it brings us quite neatly to the last question. During these sessions, we like to ask people in attendance to think of one positive action that they could do to help someone’s life easier living with dementia. For the people watching now, if you could pick just one positive action now, what would you suggest?

AJ: I think really Luke we’ve sort of touched upon it in the last answer I gave which is basically we know that the number of people living with dementia is actually increasing and it’s considered that in the next few years that there’ll be about a million people living with the disease in the next few years. As an authority, it’s not just the responsibility of us as social care but as the whole council and actually I’d say more broadly for communities to have an understanding of what it’s like to live with dementia. I think the one big thing that I feel we should do is actually have that awareness so that actually our departments, the council and communities make small changes and actually get involved in some of the dementia friendly sessions and that’s really important because the more that we inform, the less the stigma is and we gear services in a way that actually, unconsciously make sure that our services are dementia friendly. So I think people can become part of those dementia friends sessions by contacting commissioning@wrexham.gov.uk I would encourage everyone to do that. As part of that week, we have also commissioned the virtual dementia tour bus to return to Wrexham in June. That gives people an opportunity to experience first-hand what the effects of living with dementia are and we’ll be promoting that on our social media pages when that opportunity becomes available. I think in simple terms, the action I want to take is that we do raise that awareness and we do make people more familiar with it. We make people less scared, we make people comfortable and we make people think about how they make sure the services work in the right way to support individuals with dementia, carers who care for someone with dementia and actually make it as we said very much at the start a safe society for individual with dementia to live within.

LG: Brilliant and I just got to say congratulations to you and your team for getting us that third consecutive year and no doubt we’re going to get it for a fourth year as well, working towards being dementia friendly so, well done on that one and once again, thanks very much for your time today. I think everyone will agree it’s been really insightful because it’s important for people to know what their local authority does for them as well so thanks very, very much for your time today and enjoy the rest of Dementia Action Week. Thank you for joining us.

AJ: Thank you very much Luke.

LG: Brilliant, take care. Bye. Well thanks very much again everybody and enjoy the rest of the activities and awareness. I’ve been Luke again and I’ll be bringing you another interview tomorrow so do please, stick around for it. Thanks.

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