Research and Action to Pioneer Dementia-Friendly Communities and Organisations
Research and Action to Pioneer Dementia-Friendly Communities and Organisations has the potential to change both the way people with dementia interact with their social, cultural and physical environments and, in turn, the way society responds to those living with the syndrome.
The project, conducted in conjunction with Alzheimer’s Australia, will focus on the implementation and evaluation of two pilot dementia-friendly communities and organisation in Australia during with researchers collecting data from both communities and organisations during 2014.
Approximately 320,000 Australians currently have dementia with that number set to balloon to 1,000,000 by the year 2050. This huge shift demands immediate action to ensure society is able to respond to the needs of those with dementia, and reduce the stigma faced by those living with the symptoms, Dr Phillipson says.
“People with dementia often feel socially isolated and experience stigma and discrimination after their diagnosis. Environments have also not often been designed in a way that supports the independence of people with dementia , so we will need to see a shift in both the social and physical environments in which we live,” Dr Phillipson says. “We need to create communities where people understand dementia and where there are opportunities for engagement to enable those with dementia to live in their communities with meaning, purpose and quality of life.”
The Dementia-Friendly Communities and Organisations project brings together researchers from a range of disciplines. The researchers will use an action-research approach to develop a model to guide the implementation of the initiative and collect data from pilot communities and organisations.
“The ageing population means that everyone will eventually be impacted by the need for dementia-friendly societies. It’s about how we can improve the health, homes, technology, social interaction, access to shops and banks, way-finding and physical surroundings to support the active participation of people with dementia," Dr Phillipson says. “It certainly is a global challenge.”