2018.9.5 SHERINGHAM DFCTwo GP practices in North and South Norfolk have been given the seal of approval by local health bodies for their work in making their surgeries ‘Dementia Friendly’. Sheringham Medical Practice and Wymondham Medical Practice both received certification from Healthwatch Norfolk in recognition of their hard work to make their surgeries more accessible and friendly for people with dementia and their carers.

The Dementia Friendly Practices project, coordinated by Healthwatch Norfolk in partnership with NHS North and South Norfolk CCGs, developed the guidance for GP practices through working with local dementia groups, Patient Participation Groups and Practice Managers, and builds on best practice guidelines produced by Alzheimer’s UK.

The project is now encouraging surgeries in North and South Norfolk to work with their patients and promote the 5 simple steps for making their sites more accessible and dementia friendly. Making simple changes to the environment and experience of using a GP surgery can help make life easier for people who live with dementia, and help them stay independent as long as possible – such as offering double-length appointments for people with dementia, and using signs around the surgery that contain pictures as well as words.

Dr Liz Waddy, local GP and Dementia Lead for NHS South Norfolk CCG, said “People who live with Dementia face many daily challenges, and even the simplest of changes can have a powerful effect on helping them cope. I have been so impressed with how much work has been done by the local communities. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support of local patients.”

Sheringham Medical Practice worked closely with its Patient Participation Group (PPG) in following the 5 step guidance and assessment – Charlotte Pike, Business Manager at the Practice, said “We are always looking for ways to improve the experience our patients have when they visit our surgery. Our PPG has worked hard to help us achieve these improvements for people who live with dementia.”

Janet Eastwood, Chair of the Sheringham PPG, said “Our PPG has worked hard with fundraising and getting the wider community involved. We are now working with other local groups and organisations to help them be more dementia friendly, such as our local churches and dentists.”

At Wymondham Medical Practice, the project was coordinated by Sue Meadows, who received the Dementia Friendly certification on behalf of the Practice before retiring later this month. Kevan Baker, Practice Manager at Wymondham Medical Practice, said: “This achievement is apt recognition of Sue’s hard work in understanding the needs of our patients and commitment to supporting people with dementia, and we thank her role in the Practice receiving this status.”

Alex Stewart, chief executive at Healthwatch Norfolk said: “We recognise the pressure that primary care services are under so the aim of the guide is to support GP practices to become more dementia friendly in simple steps that can be easily implemented.

“Healthwatch engaged extensively with local patients, carers and practice staff in developing the guidance and the steps chosen reflect low cost, high impact solutions to common challenges faced by people with dementia and their carers when visiting the surgery.

“We are delighted to see the first practices successfully implement the guidance and hope it will make a real difference to patients across Norfolk as more surgeries and other community venues get on board.”