07 Jan 2020

Building Dementia Friendly Communities

Building Dementia Friendly Communities

Have you heard about the Alzhiemer's Society's Dementia Friendly Communities initiative? Their Dementia Friendly Communities recognition scheme celebrates the work of dementia-friendly communities across the country.

Many communities across the UK have received formal recognition for being dementia-friendly, these include many local areas such as Plymouth, Taunton, Tavistock, and Exeter.

In Exeter we have the incredible Exeter Dementia Action Alliance, which was established towards the end of 2014. Gina Awad - a volunteer Dementia Friends Champion - began delivering information sessions across the community in April 2014 and noticed a need for increased awareness and coordinated services. This led to the creation of the Alliance in December 2014. Gina was awarded Dementia Champion of the Year in 2016 at the National Dementia Friendly Awards and honoured in the Queens Birthday List with a British Empire Medal for her Voluntary Services to people living with dementia in Devon. All Alliance members are asked to sign a declaration committing them to the aims of the National Dementia Action Alliance, and to work towards developing an action plan to achieve these aims. These plans will be updated annually. 

At CLH, the entire team are Dementia Friendly, after undertaking a dementia session from the fantastic Gina, who runs the Dementia Action Alliance in Exeter. 


(The CLH team with Dementia Friends certificate)

What does it take to become a Dementia Friendly community?

Step one: Get a group together

Dementia-friendly communities work best when they’re led by local people. Join with other interested people locally to form your ‘steering group.’ Some communities choose to form a Local Dementia Action Alliance, such as Gina's Exeter Dementia Action Alliance. 

Step two: Agree a leader

This person will oversee the group and make sure the community is making progress. They aren’t expected to do everything themselves, but can coordinate the group’s activity.

They’ll also be Alzheimer’s Society’s key contact for the community, receiving support from our Dementia Friendly Communities Officers.

Step three: Raise awareness

People in your community need to understand dementia before they can take dementia-friendly actions. There are lots of ways you can raise awareness, such as:

  • Becoming Dementia Friends
  • Accessing Alzheimer’s Society training
  • Running lessons in schools

Step four: Involve people affected by dementia

Before you can start taking action, you’ll need to hear the experiences of people affected by dementia where you live.

You could do this by:

  • Inviting people with dementia to join your group
  • Visiting services, such as Memory Cafés
  • Hosting a community event
  • Step five: Tell the world
  • You’re doing something amazing, so make sure your community knows about it. It’s a great way to get more people on board and to celebrate your successes.

You could consider:

  • Sharing news on social media
  • Writing a press release for your local newspaper
  • Taking part in community events and fayres

Step six: Identify areas for local action

Taking action is the most important part of any dementia-friendly community. You don’t have to tackle everything at once. Speaking to local people with dementia can help you identify what your priorities should be.

The Alzheimer's Society suggest using the BSI PAS1365: A code of practice for dementia-friendly communities to help you. This guide offers eight key areas for action and some suggested actions for communities:

  • arts, culture, leisure and recreation
  • businesses and shops
  • children, young people and students
  • community, voluntary, faith groups and organisations
  • emergency services
  • health and social care
  • housing
  • transport

See our sector specific guides to find out how you can become a dementia friendly organisation

Step seven: Monitor your progress

Now you’ve got the ball rolling, you’ll need to plan how you’ll measure your progress. Many communities host regular meetings to share their updates on their actions, but you can choose what’s right for you.

As a recognised community, we’ll want to know how you’re getting on 6 months after your application. You’ll then keep us up-to-date with a yearly assessment. However you can update your progress as much as you want over the year.

Step eight: Apply for recognition

Your community is now ready to apply to the Alzheimer's Society's Dementia Friendly Communities recognition scheme. 

Do you run an organisation and want to learn more about how you can become a Dementia Friendly organisation like we have done at CLH? Check out our blog post on how to become a Dementia Friendly company!

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