A dementia friendly community (DFC) is one that recognises and embraces the challenges that a life with dementia presents to both people with dementia and their carers, enabling them to live life to its full potential.
How is this achieved?
Our experience in setting up our dementia friendly communities Social Enterprise has taught us that the following are key considerations when developing such an initiative:
- Involve people affected by dementia – Everything to do with any dementia friendly initiative must be informed by the people you have set out to help
- Embrace geographical challenges – Recognise the pros and cons of your area, in terms of location, ease of movement, and access to services
- Understand asset mapping and networking – Extensive networking and smart asset mapping is key to getting any dementia friendly community off the ground
- Establish credibility – Organisational credibility – the quality of being trusted and believed in – is essential in building working relationships with key partners and communities
- Build lasting partnerships – Effective partnering is key to successful DFCs and can be achieved by working with local organisations with common interests as well as acting as a conduit through which others might achieve change
- Create a sound organisational structure – No dementia friendly initiative will be the same. Clear organisational structures help an initiative’s supporters to understand their roles and responsibilities, but flexibility and willingness to adapt are needed to find optimal configurations
- Make change happen – To make change happen, a DFC needs to raise awareness of the experience of living with dementia in a remote rural location by setting themselves up as a model of excellence to inform and inspire others
- Become sustainable – Initiatives will fail without access to funding and sustained support within their communities. Commercial activities not only provide local employment but also offer initiatives an alternative to traditional fundraising activities and/or grant funding. It will, however, require time and core funding to become viable
The 4 Es: our principles for success
Engage – with the local community, bring them on board with the project and make a Dementia Friendly Community our shared goal
Educate – increase knowledge and awareness in all settings and with all people
Enthuse – ‘standing still is not an option’ – lead by example and through positive messages and outcomes
Enable – make the changes needed and develop the services and opportunities so that dementia isn’t an accepted barrier to quality of life