Writing this in National Dementia Action Week, I’m reflecting on the dementia community – for two reasons.

The first is that, earlier in the month, I was back in County Mayo to work with the staff at Mayo University Hospital. Whilst there, I took the opportunity to offer a public information session one evening. In the UK, we’re gradually getting really good at talking about dementia and of course we have fabulous people living with dementia who speak out and broaden people’s dementia insight, as well as campaigning on behalf of everyone living with dementia. The superb Dementia Choir programme this month offered another chance for people to learn something about a range of dementias and situations, through the great individuals who took part. In some areas, though, being open about dementia isn’t yet anything like the norm, so hospital teams have to find out for themselves that someone needs appropriate support. Every public awareness session will help to build the willingness to speak about dementia.

The second reason is more personal. I’ve just travelled the length of the country to visit a relative living with dementia, now in a nursing home. Nothing unusual about that – except that I was ferried about and taken care of by a Butterfly Scheme speaker, herself a former carer of a mother with dementia, who lives nearby. Not only that – I stayed with a dear friend of hers (and now mine), who cared for her husband with dementia; she pulled out all the stops to make me welcome. The only reason we have all become friends is through our experiences of caring for someone living with dementia – and what a firm friendship we have!

With a strong dementia community, we can all achieve so much. And I haven’t even mentioned all the amazing things going on in our hospitals this past week! Maybe I’ll return to that another time – but some very positive reflections for now.