Our project ‘York Dementia without Walls’ has highlighted the great scope for supporting local communities, organisations and businesses to become more aware and understanding of dementia, and more inclusive. The report published onthe 4 October suggests a number of ways forward:
- Increasing awareness of dementia and changing our attitude towards it can help to remove the stigma many people feel. This may help people to talk about their experience, to engage more in society and to ask for the help they need.
- Training for people at all levels and in all sectors should be easy to access and well promoted. This should enable people who provide everyday services to understand better what people with dementia need, and it should also assure the best levels of service and care for people with dementia.
- York’s bounty of leisure, cultural and spiritual services can help people live richer, fuller lives if they are more dementia friendly. This might require some adaptation but communicating that people with dementia are welcome would be a good first step.
- Health and social care services will need to change over time to ensure there is enough support for people living in the community. People with dementia could help to plan for this.
What it also shows very clearly is that what’s good for people with dementia is good for everybody.
There has been huge interest in the project both nationally and locally, especially since it was cited as a case study in the PM’s Dementia Challenge report. Our involvement with the Dementia Challenge Champions Group will enable us to share lessons from the York project and to learn from others engaged in similar endeavours.
We will continue to support developments in York through our new programme Dementia without Walls. The project has already started to stimulate many new ideas and initiatives – here are just four examples:
- City of York Council has formally committed to supporting York to becoming a dementia-friendly city and, with the PCT, is funding Dementia Forward to work on dementia-friendly community development
- GeniUS! York has launched a new dementia challenge to generate ideas and discuss practical – and perhaps technological – solutions.
- British Transport Police are working with the Alzheimer’s Society peer support project and a small group of people with dementia to help them familiarise themselves with the station and feel more confident about train travel.
- GCSE Drama students from Joseph Rowntree School have met with a local couple, James and Katie, to hear first hand about living with dementia in York. They have drawn on this experience to develop a moving theatre production which was recently shown and filmed at the JRHT AGM.
The dementia-friendly community is a fairly new concept and we are all still learning how to make it a reality. It’s not a race and we are really keen to share our ideas, learning, successes and failures with others. As well as continuing to support work in York, and seeking to demonstrate what a dementia-friendly employer can look like, JRF will also be funding dementia-friendly projects in Bradford, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales next year – so again will be very committed to sharing learning across all four nations of the UK.
Philly Hare is Programme Manager at the Joseph Rowntree Foundation