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Warrington leads the way in challenging outdated Dementia language

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In what is believed to be a first for the health and social care services nationally, Warrington Dementia Transformation Board is leading the way in challenging outdated dementia language.

The announcement comes during Dementia Action Week (20 – 26 May 2019) which aims to unite people, workplaces, schools and communities to act and improve the lives of people living with dementia.

The Dementia Transformation Board, formed by representatives of NHS Warrington CCG, NHS Warrington and Halton Hospitals Foundation Trust, North West Boroughs Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Bridgewater Community Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, Warrington Borough Council and the Third Sector, aims to improve dementia care for all in Warrington.

Andy Tysoe, Chair of the Dementia Transformation Board and Clinical Lead for Dementia at NHS Warrington CCG said: “In Warrington, working with our partners, we want to eradicate the stigma that surrounds dementia and will start this by removing the archaic term ‘elderly mentally infirm’ (EMI) that is commonly used to describe services that people living with dementia access.”

The change means, that in Warrington, the term EMI will be phased out across our health and social care footprint. It will be replaced with language that is much more person-centred and acceptable to people using our services.

Andy continued: “People with dementia often feel stigmatised by negative assumptions and attitudes about the disease. We want to start addressing that and it doesn’t help our cause when we label our services for people with dementia as “elderly mentally infirm”. Dementia is not a disease that just affects older people, younger people are also diagnosed with it. Dementia is not a mental illness; it’s a physical brain disease and we certainly don’t want people to feel “infirm” with it – we want people to live better with their dementia for as long as possible.

“This cost-neutral initiative is just the start of reducing stigma around dementia by increasing understanding.

“Even now, in 2019, there is still a lot of misunderstanding, fear and stigma used in day-to-day language when talking about people living with dementia and this can adversely affect a person’s engagement with services and their community. We want to increase the involvement of people with dementia and their carers in shaping our services and also listen to any suggestions they have from their own experiences.

“We’re proud we’re making this change locally and hope that this inspires other areas to do the same.”

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