Crawley dementia patients’ stories in NHS film

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Frank and honest experiences of living with dementia are shared in a new film released by the NHS in Crawley.

Clinicians leading the NHS in Crawley hosted a Dementia Care discussion at the NHS Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) Governing Body meeting in November and it is now the focus of a new online film, published on the NHS CCG’s You Tube Channel.

The film features firsthand experiences shared at the meeting attended by people with dementia as well as charities and groups who help people with the condition.

Crawley resident Rex Upham-Hill, who has dementia, said: “One of the most important things to get across to people is that it’s not a catching disease. You can’t catch it like a cough or a cold or something like that. It’s something that actually the person doesn’t even know that they’ve got. It’s somebody else who recognises that.”

Rex’s wife Patricia added: “Awareness is important because as soon as people realize that somebody’s got it they drift away. Your friends seem to just vanish and I think it’s because they don’t know how to talk to you or even how to approach you. They seem as though they’re embarrassed and that’s very sad. Whereas I think if they were more aware of it they would be able to cope.”

Crawley Borough Council member Brenda Smith cares for her husband Jim who has dementia. She said: “It’s about keeping people with dementia part of everyday life and everything they’ve always done.”

The Crawley CCG hopes the film will build on the town’s campaign to be a Dementia Friendly Town.

Dr Amit Bhargava, clinical chief officer for NHS Crawley CCG, said: “I want thank the families who attended the meeting and acknowledge the open manner in which they spoke about living with dementia. The conversation was really valuable to us as a Governing Body, but also for the wider public debate.

“Our aim via Dementia Friendly Crawley is to ‘normalise’ dementia and encourage open awareness in our communities. We want people living with dementia to have as normal and fulfilled lives as possible.

“Via Dementia Friendly Crawley we have the ability to do so much more. We are making a start by increasing awareness of dementia in our town and working with our community to achieve this both conceptually and practically. We are still in the early days, but we have high hopes for the scheme that has brought together everyone working for a shared goal of supporting people to, among other things, remain independent for longer and to reduce social isolation.”

To view the film go to