Members of Forest of Dean District Council’s Street Warden Team are celebrating the news that they are the best innovators in the country, according to the RSPCA

The three person team won this prestigious accolade at an RSPCA PawPrints awards ceremony in London on November 27th having submitted a number of case studies showing how they improved support for pet owners who have dementia.

Discussions around these cases with the Community Engagement Officer led to working with a team of Dementia Friendly Community Enablers. This resulted in the development and distribution of the Pet Owners Living with Dementia and A guide for Professionals leaflets.

Cllr Paul Hiett, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Community Safety, said: “The team became aware of several dog-owning residents with dementia who were experiencing difficulties in caring for their pets.

“Nevertheless, the residents clearly benefited very much from the presence of the pets to provide companionship and a link to the community.  Rather than remove the pets from the care of their owners, the team – who have all had dementia awareness training – devised ways to provide extra care and support which would ensure the continued health and welfare of the pets. 

“The team worked closely with one of the Council’s Community Engagement Officers to help address problems and concerns that they had encountered.  This resulted in improvements to behaviours of the dog owners with dementia when caring for their pets, including: the prevention of inadvertent dog fouling; support with the care and nutrition of a dog; and planning ahead to secure the welfare of a dog before dementia advances to the stage where the owner can no longer cope.”

Rachel Williams, Senior Parliamentary Advisor at the RSPCA was clearly impressed by the team’s response to these issues. She said: “The judges all loved the Forest of Dean District Council’s entry for the innovator category at the PawPrints awards. The judges were particularly impressed by the way that the Forest team addressed an important and growing problem in a relatively simple way that any other local authority could adapt. Many congratulations to all involved.”