In the professional side of dementia care, there has been a push in recent years to reduce the stigma associated with having dementia and being a caregiver for someone with dementia. This is often referred to in the academic literature as “normalizing dementia,” or making it more normal for people with dementia to be part of their communities. On the large-scale end, the World Health Organization has formed a Global Network of Age-Friendly Cities (which you can read more about in my post on my Internship on Age-Friendly Cities), which sets guidelines, milestones, and recommendations for communities who would like to be part of the network (you can read more about that here). While the focus is not on dementia only, guidelines and policy making are a step in the right direction so that citizens and residents of all ages and ability levels can truly be a part of their community.
What would you think of a community that acknowledges the potential of people who have dementia? What about a community in which business and service workers have the skills to help people with dementia use their services safely and successfully?
Communities in the US and the UK are doing just that. In a town in Wisconsin, local businesses have formed the Watertown Dementia Awareness Coalition. Employers are working to make their environments “more dementia friendly and easier to navigate for a person with memory loss.” Employees are getting awareness training, and people with dementia are attending Memory Cafes, or gatherings filled with laughter, learning, and friendship.
In England, East Staffordshire is set to become dementia friendly. One of 20 communities that the UK’s Alzheimer’s Society is working with to be more inclusive of people with dementia by 2015, the district aims to provide people with sensitive care and support. A hospital in Burton has a head start: Staff at Queen’s Hospital have been recognized for improving their care of people with dementia, and each ward has a dementia champion who works with staff to help them understand and honor the needs of people living with condition.
Building Dementia-Friendly Communities: A Priority for Everyone, a guide from the Alzheimer’s Society, outlines a number of ways in which any community can better support people with dementia. Methods include ensuring that:
- People have access to early diagnosis and support.
- Health and social care services deliver sensitive care.
- People both at home and in care have access to all the help they need.
- Transport services and professionals are consistent, reliable, and respectful.
- Leisure and entertainment activities are inclusive and accommodating.
Here, you can find more resources to help you provide high-quality dementia care.