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Organiser of King's Lynn dementia-friendly initiative sets out blueprint to help raise awareness

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The organiser of an initiative to make Lynn a dementia-friendly town has set out a blueprint to help raise awareness of the disease.

Tom McEwan, of Wootton Road, who directs the town-based business Home Instead Senior Care with his wife Laura, has outlined plans to improve support for dementia.

However, he said this vision will not be straightforward due to the size of the town’s population.

Tom and Laura McEwan are launching a new drive to make Lynn a dementia friendly town (6116438)
Tom and Laura McEwan are launching a new drive to make Lynn a dementia friendly town (6116438)

Mr McEwan said the size and diversity of Lynn makes it difficult to fight dementia in contrast to Dereham and Holt, where Dementia Friendly programmes have been successfully set up.

He said: “We found there is a real lack of understanding of dementia and there is a bit of a stigma surrounding the issue.

“Dereham has had a group for nearly four years which raises understanding and makes a difference for people living locally.

“King’s Lynn is lacking teams of support for dementia, so we want to change that.”

Originally working in the building industry, Mr McEwan became involved with dementia after his nan received poor care in Sheffield.

When looking into the disease on the back of this, Mr McEwan was invited to set up a Home Instead Senior Care franchise in Lynn after enquiring into the issue.

His wife and colleague Laura, who helps Mr McEwan oversee 100 caregivers, also had a grandmother living with dementia.

The lack of an established organisation to fight the disease among the Lynn community is something Mr McEwan hopes to address.

He added: “We are still in the early stages, but this is really about educating the community about dementia. We are not looking to make people experts in the disease, but we need to get people on board who are really concerned.”

Mr McEwan’s involvement with dementia treatment stemmed back to his 89-year-old nan being cared for by a 18-year-old which he described as an inappropriate match.

As a result, he pledges to match carers to patients with shared interests as well as advocating an over 50s care force.

“It’s not just about a conveyor belt of people, but creating relationships between carers and patients that are compatible,” he said.

Those interested in a Dementia Friendly town were invited to an initial meeting at Home Instead Senior Care’s offices on Monday, January 7.

Mr McEwan added: “Dementia is probably where cancer was 30 years ago. It used to be a taboo subject because of lots of complaints in the media but it is now getting the attraction.

“Norfolk as a county historically has the lowest diagnosis rate. Just five years ago it was the worst.

“It has distinctly improved but it is still not hitting the goals.”

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