The charity have been supported by a host of famous faces this Dementia Action Week
A stellar line up of TV stars from actors to presenters to legendary broadcasters and filmmakers have come together this Dementia Action Week (17-23 May 2021) to support Alzheimer’s Society’s call to rebuild the social care system for everyone affected by dementia.
To launch the week, Sir Tony Robinson joined people affected by dementia and Alzheimer’s Society CEO Kate Lee outside the Houses of Parliament in a photocall urging the Prime Minister to cure social care, while a hard-hitting campaign film featuring Game of Thrones actor Kate Dickie was issued highlighting the stark realities facing carers.
Sir Tony Robinson, whose parents were affected by dementia, said:
‘I urge everyone in the UK to sign the Dementia Action Week petition. It is vital that the social care system is one that supports our most vulnerable, and one that we can all grow old in. For too long, families have felt forgotten by a system that is unfair, difficult to access and inadequate, not giving people with dementia the care they so desperately need. We can’t cure dementia yet; but the Government can cure the social care system, and they must act now to prevent further heartbreak and distress for thousands of families across the UK.’
Last night, Thursday 20 May, Carey Mulligan, Judy Finnigan, Sir Tony Robinson, Angela Rippon CBE and Anne-Marie Duff came together virtually to each present an award at this year’s Dementia Hero Awards, with Richard Madeley hosting the evening.
Paul Harvey, the composer living with dementia who shot to fame with his piece Four Notes, composed a bespoke piano composition for the event. Award-winning poet Richard Meier also wrote a poem which he performed on the night.
Presenting the Dementia Hero Award for Fundraising, Alzheimer’s Society Ambassador Carey Mulligan said:
‘I wish we could all be together so I could thank each and every one of you in person for your amazing hard work. What an exceptional group of finalists raising incredible sums of money to help us at Alzheimer’s Society continue our work to support people affected by dementia.’
Angela Rippon CBE presented the Dementia Hero Award for Dementia Friendly Business. She said:
‘All of our finalists really are totally a credit to their sector in which they work and live. And indeed, what they do is they set a whole new bar on how organisations of their size really can support people who are affected by dementia and enable them to live well.’
The Dementia Hero Award for Care and Compassion was presented by actor Anne-Marie Duff who said that the finalists ‘exemplify what it means to be caring and compassionate. All our carers across the country who support their loved ones – friends and family everyday – are all heroes.’
The awards recognise the inspirational achievements of individuals, groups and organisations who did outstanding things throughout the pandemic to support people affected by dementia. We received more than 400 nominations across our 11 categories.
People with dementia have been hardest hit by the pandemic, accounting for over a quarter of deaths, with many finding that lockdown’s knock-on effects of isolation and reduced health and social care support have also worsened symptoms. Our services have been used over 5 million times over the last year, showing we are needed now more than ever.
Film producer David Parfitt also joined Kate Lee on Wednesday 19 May for a screening and Q&A of The Father, which won the BAFTA and Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay. The film features Sir Anthony Hopkins who was awarded both the BAFTA and Academy Award for Leading Actor for his portrayal of a man living with dementia. Writer and director Florian Zeller provided a video message of support emphasising why it was so important for dementia to be on the cultural agenda.
At the event, David Parfitt said:
‘I took Florian [Zeller] to see Philip, my father-in-law who has dementia, in the lead up to the film. Liz, my wife, keeps saying to her dad ‘we’ve been making a film about you’, and he goes ‘oh, that’s nice!’ ‘You’re played by Anthony Hopkins’, ‘oh, he’s good’. Which is lovely, but of course, the next time we go, he can’t remember and the last year of course, we’ve hardly seen him at all. I think it’s certainly given us a better understanding of what he may be going through and the idea that any time we walk through the door we’re strangers.
‘What we do realise is that we’re looking at a relatively privileged family who can afford the care and he’s left in a relatively nice place, [but] we know that’s not the case for the majority of people. There’s a whole other discussion to be had about funding. Phillip was a very organised chap, who got his pensions and everything set up – we’re still going to have to sell his flat to keep this going. I know from direct experience how tough it is to keep people looked after.’
Kate Lee said:
‘The film is just so important for breaking down those taboos around dementia. It’s so important that we get across the impact of this disease and that the need of support is huge and universal, whether you can afford to buy that yourself or whether it’s provided by the state. The pain and the emotional burden of the disease is also enormous.
‘I think [the film] will do a huge amount to reduce the stigma around dementia which is ultimately one of the biggest problems of our society. People aren’t talking about it which has a huge impact; that’s why it’s not in the Government’s agenda for social care reform, and can be why people don’t go and get a diagnosis.’
In his video message, Oscar-winning writer and director Florian Zeller said:
‘I was raised by my grandmother and she was someone very important to me. She started to experience dementia when I was fifteen, so I knew what it was to go through this painful process and to find yourself in a position where you are powerless or impotent. You can love someone, and at the same time discover that love is not enough. But I also knew that I’m not the only one, that everyone has a grandmother, or a father and that everyone has, or will have to deal with this painful dilemma.’
In his first speech as Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said, ‘we will fix the crisis in social care once and for all.’ For far too long, families facing dementia have been failed by a social care system that is totally inadequate, hard to access, costly and deeply unfair. Alzheimer’s Society is asking the public to urge Governments to honour their promise to rebuild the broken social care system so that the 850,000 people with dementia in the UK and their carers can get the support they so desperately need.