In her new role, Carey will bring both international attention to the benefits of making communities dementia friendly, and a renewed focus on the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme in England.
To mark the announcement, Carey spent time with Health Minister Jeremy Hunt at Heathrow Airport, which is working towards becoming the world’s first dementia friendly airport, to lead a Dementia Friends training session for the airport’s staff. She set out the UK’s role as a global leader in dementia and outlined her plans to champion the rights of people with dementia across the world.
The airport provides a personalised customer journey for passengers with dementia where in advance of their flight they can take part in a virtual 360 degree tour of their journey and are provided with quiet and therapeutic areas in the airport to wait in. Heathrow has also pledged for all 76,000 customer-facing staff to be dementia-aware, through Dementia Friends sessions, training and online resources.
Carey aims to inspire and engage world leaders to tackle stigma and promote understanding of dementia, a condition that her grandmother, Nans, lives with. Her first action in her new role will be marking World Alzheimer’s Day on 21 September by delivering a Dementia Friends session to a youth group in Los Angeles to spread greater awareness among young people about the condition.
“My Nans has dementia and I have experienced first-hand how devastating it can be. It affects everyone differently, and it’s so important that everyone affected by the condition is treated with the respect and dignity that they deserve. At the moment, there’s not nearly enough awareness and as a global society we have a duty to change that.
The first step involves educating people and breaking down stigma – not just on our doorstep, but across the world. I’ve seen my mum doing this in her role as a Dementia Friends Champion – now I’m honoured to become the first Global Dementia Friends Ambassador and help Alzheimer’s Society and the government change global attitudes towards dementia.”