Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Dyfed-Powys Police: Dementia Friendly and Neighbourhood Friendly

Dyfed Powys Police is running an initiative to raise awareness of dementia in our communities and Inspector Brian Jones is at the forefront. In this guest post he tells us more about the initiative in Powys.

Inspector Brian Jones was born into a rural community near Hay-on-Wye and has spent his life in and around the county of Powys. Joining Dyfed Powys Police in 1994, he worked his way up the ranks, filling a variety of roles, to his present position of Neighbourhood Development Inspector, responsible for forging links with partner agencies to develop an integrated approach to addressing community problems. He is also responsible for equalities and the development of links with under-represented groups within the local community in order to increase police knowledge, understanding and awareness of the plethora of issues impacting on modern day life. 

Each of the four areas that make up Dyfed Powys Police has established a Confidence and Equality Group (CEG). These groups are organized by the police and seek representatives from communities that include young people, aged 16 to 25 years, elderly people, people with disabilities, people who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender and people from minority ethnic communities. The purpose of the CEGs is to ensure access by under-represented groups within the community to the police and to provide a forum to discuss and resolve the needs and concerns of the community.

Brian chairs the Powys group, which meets quarterly, and involves members from these under-represented groups, as well as those actually living with a condition, for example, mental health. “I want the group to have a wider membership and create wider awareness”, said Brian. “To this end, the CEG meetings have been themed since 2012. These themes have covered a range of issues, such as mental health, dementia, ageing population and autism, to name a few.” 

Dyfed Powys Hate Crime Support Officers
The Powys CEG meeting, which is attended by a mixture of partner agencies and Community Support Police Officers, was held in November 2013. The theme was Dementia and Rhiannon Davies, Chair of the Brecon and Hay Dementia Friendly Community Group, agreed to attend to present the case for people living with Dementia. “It was following this meeting that Rhiannon asked me to become a Dementia Champion, which I did, and all 34 attendees subsequently signed up to become Dementia Friends,” said Brian. “Having this increased awareness and understanding of dementia is vital in assisting the police to treat those living with dementia with dignity and respect, to react appropriately to situations involving such people and to give the wider community the confidence to come forward, knowing that we, the police, can deliver the quality of service and support needed.” 

With his Dementia Champion hat on, Brian has now given Dementia Friends sessions to the scouts, to senior police officers and is soon to present a session to the Police Call Centre based in Carmarthen. All Hate Crime Support Officers throughout the 4 areas of Dyfed Powys Police are now Dementia Friends, trained by Brian. He also presented a session to the Powys Mental Health Planning and Development Partnership, as well as to a seminar for nurses and midwives. It is perhaps testament to the success of Brian’s role as a Dementia Champion and Neighbourhood Development Inspector that a police officer should be asked to stand before a group of health professionals to present the case for dementia.

Besides himself, Brian now has five Community Support Officers trained as Dementia Champions, whose responsibility it will be to train all staff in all stations in the Powys area.

For those police officers who have become Dementia Friends, the badge now forms part of their uniform and it is noticeable that wearing the badge opens up doors and initiates conversations. “My ultimate aim is for Dyfed Powys Police to become a Dementia Friendly organization” said Brian. “There are so many instances when we might be called upon to engage with someone, whether a carer or the family of someone, living with dementia. Whether it’s a missing person, a victim of hate crime or domestic crime, the level of response is extremely resource-intensive for the police. The key to providing the correct response, to picking up signals at an early stage, to treating people with dignity, respect and understanding, is in having that insight, that additional awareness, whether we’re dealing with dementia, autism or mental health.” 

“I’m very proud of how we’ve been able to change the culture within the organization over the last 20 years to where we are now” said Brian. “The culture of communities is changing as well and therefore how we engage with and police them and I’m proud to be part of that too.”

Do you live in a Dementia Friendly Community? Let us know what you think or if you have any queries in the comments box below.

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