Internationally there is growing awareness of the need for communities to become dementia friendly through a range of integrated social, environmental and physical approaches. The overarching goal of dementia friendly communities is to support people to live well with dementia. The voices of those living with dementia, and their carers, must be integrated into planning in order for locally relevant solutions to evolve.
Authentic Engagement: Building Community partnerships
In 2015, we initiated a new program of research working directly with communities. Our aim was to enable community members to inform the needs and direction of dementia friendly initiatives in differing geographical areas. To date through this program we have delivered:
- Over 20 facilitated workshops in partnership with community representatives that have engaged over 300 Tasmanians across the sites;
- A pathway for sharing knowledge and expertise in dementia;
- Foundations for community specific dementia priorities to build better engagement.
Dementia Friendly Community forums were delivered through a 'world café' structure that included information exchange and cross pollination of ideas and strategies, leading to agreed understandings and collaborative learning. Each individual community identified their current strengths and moved toward action planning based on their own community needs
While different communities identified a range of individual and collective resources and networks available to them, two key elements were apparent across communities. There was a desire for greater education about dementia that would provide a foundation for further work, and a need for shared resources to further support community conversations about this important issue.
Work will continue and focus on tools to enable communities to initiate their own conversations about becoming dementia friendly, and we will explore how education to communities can be best delivered.