HEALTHWATCH Wiltshire engagement lead Julie Brown has spoken out in support of dementia ambassador Barbara Windsor and believes Wiltshire is a dementia friendly place to live.

National treasure Barbara Windsor called on new Prime Minister Boris Johnson to do more to improve services for people with the illness.

Dementia friendly services have been praised after a Wiltshire wide look into the illness discovered that 66 per cent of people with the disease view their community as dementia friendly.

The survey was carried out by Healthwatch Wiltshire, who spoke to over 100 people with dementia and their carers.

It is estimated that there are over 8,000 people living with dementia in Wiltshire.

There are currently 24 support groups and initiatives being runs by volunteers across the county.

Cllr Laura Mayes said: “I think it is encouraging news because 10 years ago dementia almost seemed like a taboo subject. It is down to our communities.”

Ms Brown of Healthwatch said: “People are more physically active and able to get out more. They make new friends, carers felt reassured by taking part in groups and people felt happier.

Since April 5,500 people have taken part in a least 1 of 40 monthly activity groups organised by Alzheimer’s Support.

More than 24 music, arts, woodwork, exercise, memory cafes and more are run across the county by the Wiltshire charity.

Sarah Marriot head of community services said: “Our groups help people with dementia and their carers have a couple of hours where they can be husband and wife again, or mother and daughter. We try to cater for the person behind the dementia and so we have lots of different groups going on. Our goal is to make it so that there is a group 5 to 10 miles to everyone.

"There are still issues to do with transport in Wiltshire. Cuts to bus services mean that it can be hard for people to get out. A community transport service could be run by volunteers as there are some great Link buses but they’re stretched and have to prioritise hospital appointments of course.

“There are dementia advisers that are connected to surgeries to help people with their diagnosis, but I think more work needs to be done to make sure people know they are out there.

“Some surgeries like Ramsbury surgery are brilliant at this but some, and it doesn’t seem to matter how big or small they are some could be better at telling people what is out there.

"They provide an informal support network together because they see each other regularly to ask if everything is ok."

"My fear is people have to reach crisis point before getting help but I think at Wiltshire we are good at making sure services work together."