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Alzheimer’s Society ‘Remember Those Who Forget’

Alzheimer’s Society ‘Remember Those Who Forget’

Kinross and Render case study

Background

The Alzheimer’s Society is committed to maintaining, improving and promoting its unique knowledge and understanding of dementia.

Challenge

In 2005 Alzheimer’s Society asked Kinross and Render to help it raise public and ministerial awareness of the discrimination against people with dementia.

The long-term aim is to make the government change its current unfair policy of means-testing for social care when people with other chronic illnesses receive it free of charge.

In addition the campaign also had to address the NICE recommendations to withdraw drugs for people with Alzheimer’s from the NHS.

Strategy

Given the complexity of the financial and medical arguments surrounding the campaign, the team focused on clearly defining the messages: namely the recognition of dementia as a physical disease as well as a mental illness, and the need for dementia be treated the same as other conditions, such as brain tumours, for which free personal care such as help with washing and eating, is provided as part of nursing care under the NHS.

Supporting this strategy Kinross and Render sought to build up political momentum around means testing for care and turn it into an election issue.

During the campaign, NICE (the National Institute for Clinical Excellence), issued initial guidance that the NHS should stop providing Alzheimer’s drugs free of charge.

This announcement added an extra dimension to the campaign and could have caused loss of focus.  However, Kinross and Render capitalised on this development to add weight to the campaign.

Tactics

The focus for the campaign was a march on Parliament on March 16 with the theme ‘Remember Those Who Forget’. 

In the lead up to the march Kinross and Render recommended commissioning research to quantify the huge lack of public support for the Government’s current policy of means-testing people with dementia for long-term care.

The results, revealing that 79 per cent of people believed that care needs arising from a disease or a medical condition should be provided free of charge, were released several weeks before the march to set the scene.

The fact that 51 per cent also believed that it would change their vote was extremely topical just weeks before the election.

Case studies, interviews with spokespeople from the Alzheimer’s Society, as well as people with dementia and their carers, were made available to the media.

A postcard campaign was also devised incorporating a message of support from Claire Rayner, which were sent to MPs by local supporters.

Letters were also sent to MPs, Stephen Ladyman and the shadows advising them of the protest march.

On the day the protesters, which included TV stars Lynda Bellingham and Nicola Duffett, and The Times critic AA Gill, carried placards, banners and Forget-Me-Knots to highlight the particular vulnerability of those who cannot remember.

A press and photocall was organised on College Green, opposite the Houses of Parliament, with a 16-foot high inflatable elephant, representing memory and the logo of the Alzheimer’s Society

The day of the march was the day the budget was announced. Again Kinross and Render turned this possible distraction for the media into a positive, through early announcement of the march to the press and the politicisation of the issue.

Following the march, protesters then met with their local MPs in the Houses of Parliament.

Results

The campaign generated significant press and media coverage including 91 pieces of national print and broadcast coverage, including a front-page headline in the Daily Mail.

Regional and sector-specific coverage was just as extensive and numerous articles have appeared in the health and medical press and online.

The story was covered on Sky News, GMTV and Lorraine Kelly’s LKToday, Woman’s Hour on Radio 4 and BBC London News. Someone was planted in the audience of BBC’s Question Time who asked Michael Howard a question on funding for care during the election special programme, which was aired.

The issue was also the subject of Channel 4’s Despatches programme.

The volume of media coverage sustained around the campaign was the highest ever achieved by the Alzheimer’s Society on any campaign.

The number of calls to the Alzheimer’s Society helpline increased by nearly 25 per cent during March.

Nearly every MP in the country was contacted and on the afternoon of the march, the Prime Minister was challenged on the issue during Prime Minister’s Questions.

The Secretary of State for Health subsequently met with the Alzheimer’s Society and provided them with assurances that their views would be communicated to NICE.

www.kinrossrender.com

AJR
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