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Henry Simmons, Chief Executive of Alzheimer's Scotland

Scottish Business Network May 2019

I had the pleasure of attending the SBN meeting in London this month in order share the work of Alzheimer Scotland and talk about the opportunity to invest in the development of the International Centre and Fellow Network that we are setting up.  However, prior to this I had the chance to participate in the Master Class session and listen to the renowned artist Gerard Burns talk about his personal journey, his views on the art world and how he has approached the development of his work. It was an inspiration, I also managed to talk with Gerard after his session and I was so impressed with his dedication and commitment to support many great charitable efforts throughout Scotland and beyond.

Gerard was a hard act to follow but I did my best to present to the members the very different world that we are now living in when we think about dementia in Scotland and indeed the role that Alzheimer Scotland and our many partners are playing in this. I talked about how we now know that some 30% of dementias are preventable and how we are looking to develop a Brain Health and Dementia Prevention Strategy in Scotland, explaining how we need to move away from seeing dementia at the end point and understand that this is the consequence of many forms of untreated brain disease.  I also explained how in Scotland we and our partners had worked so closely with the Scottish Government to lead the way in transforming our approach to diagnosis, post diagnostic support, integrated care and advanced care. Developing within this a rights-based approach that transforms the idea of a person with dementia away from the stereotypical image to that of a citizen, a person with the right to be included and live well with dementia.

The national policies and approaches that we have developed in Scotland has brought much International recognition, so much so that we have been inundated with requests to come and learn about our work and our approach from practitioners and policy makes across the world. As a result of this we have established an International Centre with our partners at the University of the West of Scotland Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice. The centre will run study tours and offer bespoke learning opportunities for the policy makers and practitioners that want to learn about our work.

We want this opportunity to be open to all countries and we are keen for activist, policy makers and practitioners in those countries who do not have the funding our investment in dementia policy to have the opportunity to come to Scotland too. To this end we are looking to introduce sponsored Fellowships, and many of SBN members on the night expressed an interest in supporting this when I explained that a £1,000 investment would sponsor such a Fellow. This will give them the opportunity to come to Scotland and work with us, learn about our approach and then become connected to an International Network of Fellows that will help them sustain and transform their own local systems and supports for people with dementia.

We will be following all of this up and using the support and advice from the members to develop our ideas and approach further. I owe a huge thanks to Russel, Scott and Christine for this opportunity and to all the members of the network for their support and interest.

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