'Song-a-minute Man' Joins Forces with Emergency Services for Dementia Action Week

Police have joined forces with ‘Song-a-Minute Man’ to raise awareness of dementia during Dementia Action Week (21-27 May).

Simon McDermott and his dad Teddy McDermott, who is 80-years-old and is living with dementia, made worldwide press when videos of them singing together in their car went viral and since then they have managed to raise more than £150,000 to support the National Dementia Helpline and TalkingPoint, services which provide help and advice for families living and caring for someone with dementia.  

Inspector Phil Spencer, Blue Light Programme Coordinator for Cleveland Police, said: “I am delighted to be able to welcome Simon to the Force to raise as much awareness as we can about this devastating illness. Simon, who has first-hand experience of caring for his dad, will be able to provide an insight for us of how to care for those who have dementia who may come into contact with the emergency services. I’d like to thank him for taking the time to come and talk to us about this very important subject.”

Ted, who was a singer throughout his life, was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in 2013 and can no longer recognise his family or where he is, however, he remembers songs which were his old backing tracks and in those brief moments he is back to his old self.

Simon will speak to emergency services personnel and partner agencies about him and his families’ experiences with dementia at the Dementia Action Week Conference on Tuesday 22nd May at Cleveland Police Headquarters in Middlesbrough.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cleveland, Barry Coppinger, said: “I’m very pleased that Simon has accepted our offer to come and speak to our emergency services about his experiences with this devastating illness. His input will mean that our blue light services can learn more about the condition in order to provide the best possible service to our communities.”

Representatives from the Alzheimers Society will also attend the conference to offer sessions on becoming ‘dementia friends’ to emergency services personnel so that they can better recognise the symptoms of dementia and arrange appropriate care.

During the awareness week, a fifth care home will also join in Cleveland Police’s ‘Safe Haven Scheme’, which allows police to take those with dementia to care homes to be looked after, rather than taken to custody where it may not be most appropriate for them.