STIRLING COUNCIL has given the green light to a ground-breaking action plan to make the whole of Stirling dementia friendly.

Dementia has now overtaken heart disease as Britain’s biggest killer and there are an estimated 1,650 people living with the condition in the Stirling Council area.

That figure is expected to double over the next 20 years while Stirling’s ageing population has also highlighted the need for the Council to adopt a new approach.

Elected members heard on Thursday at a meeting of the full Council that the strategy will be led by the multi-agency Dementia Friendly Stirling group.

The aim is to ensure people with dementia and their families can continue to participate and engage in their neighbourhood, community and city by making key changes to the fabric of Stirling.

Councillor Chris Kane, along with several other members of the Council, spoke passionately about the subject at Thursday’s meeting, adding that it was time for Stirling to start ‘changing the language’ around dementia.

“This week I undertook training to become a dementia friend and the positive message I took out of an otherwise sobering session is that it is possible to live well with dementia,” he said.

“Current research indicates that one in three people born in the UK this year will suffer from some form of dementia in their lifetime. That figure could reduce if effective treatments, or even a cure, is discovered in the future.

“But until that day we need to start changing the language and the approach we take to dementia. There’s no choice. Being frightened of dementia or being unable to talk about it isn’t helpful.

“Being a dementia friend is about turning understanding into action and this strategy will continue to help get the conversation out of care homes and into our communities. It will help guide decisions we take as a council and take us closer to our goal of Stirling becoming a dementia friendly city and district.”

Earlier in the week, 10 of Stirling’s Councillors took steps to join the growing list of local Dementia Friends – people who make it part of their daily life to raise awareness of dementia and reduce the stigma attached to it.

Speaking after the meeting, Council Leader Scott Farmer said: “Our responsibility as Councillors for Stirling is to look after the people who live here and acknowledge their different needs and requirements – that includes people with dementia.

“We need to better understand what matters to people with dementia, and their carers, and consider what we can do as a Council. This plan does exactly that and highlights the need for us all to learn more and care more about people living with the condition.”

As part of the strategy, the Dementia Friendly Stirling Group will support communities across the Stirling Council area to become Dementia Friendly with sustainable infrastructure to support individuals with dementia, their families and carers.

There are currently 1,016 Dementia Friends across Stirling and Clackmannanshire. As a measure of success this figure will be used to gauge progress of Dementia Friendly Communities as they establish and develop.

Avenues for Dementia Friendly accreditation will be explored with support provided to organisations and communities to achieve accreditation where this is available.