Living Well, Longer

GC dementia-web

Dementia-Friendly Communities and Organisations

The ProjectGC-Dementia2 

The demographic aging of the population has brought an increase in the number of people living with dementia. International estimates are 46 million, with this number expected to rise to 138 million by 2050. Coping with the increased prevalence of dementia demands a shift in both the social and the physical environments in which we live.

We must increase public understanding of dementia and reduce the fear, stigma and social exclusion associated with living with dementia.

We must design public spaces and civic buildings to support people with dementia to participate in civic life.

We need dementia friendly communities that empower people with dementia, increasing their social inclusion and creating more supportive physical environments.

The ‘Dementia Friendly Kiama’ project is a partnership between the University of Wollongong (UOW) Global Challenges Program, the Kiama Municipal Council, the Kiama community and Dementia Australia.

The project utilises a Community-based Participatory Action Research framework to inform the development, implementation and evaluation of a dementia-friendly community intervention.

Initial research in Kiama included:

  • interviews and mapping exercises with people with dementia and their carers
  • community and business surveys
  • piloting a Dementia-friendly business toolkit
  • the development of an environmental assessment tool for use in the auditing of public buildings.

This research guided the Action Plan of a local Dementia Alliance and Dementia Advisory Group. Evaluative research activities monitored inputs, outputs, impacts and outcomes of the project.

Dementia-friendly Kiama Evaluation Flyer


Project Outcomes and Publications 

Key achievements include:

  1. The empowerment of people living with dementia including opportunities for civic participation, social inclusion and peer support through the Southern Dementia Advisory Group and other Dementia Friendly Kiama activities
  2. Improved community understanding and increased positive attitudes with regard to the capabilities of people living with dementia. This has been achieved via education sessions (with over 1000 attendances) and the development of information resources including the ‘Dementia Illawarra Shoalhaven’ website
  3. Tools to improve the physical environment including the Dementia Friendly Communities Environmental Assessment Tool (DFC-EAT) and the establishment of the ‘OurPlace’ Kiama mapping tool
  4. Public recognition and acclaim: Excellence in Community Partnerships Award at the National Disability Awards (2016), World Health Organisation recognition at the 7th Global Conference for the Alliance of Healthy Cities (2016),
    National Award for Local Government in the Disability Access and Inclusion category (2016)
  5. Impact on Policy - Parliamentary Enquiry into Development of Cities
    Phillipson, Brennan-Horley and Fleming made a submission (no 145) to the House Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities. The focus of the submission was regarding the economic and social imperative for transitioning cities and regional development to promote dementia and aged friendly environments. Following their submission they were invited to appear before the committee as part of a public hearing on Friday March 23 2018. Evidence presented during this enquiry drew on learnings from the Dementia Friendly Kiama project. 
  6. Impact on National Practice - The model and tools informed Dementia Australia’s $3.9 million ‘National Dementia Friendly Communities Strategy’ funded by the Department of Health (2017-2021).
  7. Follow-on projects such as the ‘Dementia Enabling University Strategy’ have increased opportunities for students from five faculties to study the impact of dementia and consider their role in the creation of dementia friendly communities.

In the Media

Dementia-friendly community to host free workshop in Gerroa, Kiama Independent, July 18, 2018

Get Blue Haven residents bopping, donate your old iPod shuffles, Kiama Independent, May 8, 2018

'Social Dancing for People with Dementia’ is back, Kiama Independent, April 13, 2018

Dance proves too powerful for dementia, Kiama Independent, September 1, 2017

From law to engineering: university puts dementia focus across disciplines, Ageing Agenda, June 3, 2016

Dementia Friendly Kiama Project wins national disability award, Illawarra Mercury, Nov 10, 2016

Building a Dementia Friendly Australia, WIN TV, Nov 29, 2016

Kiama Dementia Friendly Project project wins WHO award, Kiama Independent, August 31, 2016

Dementia diagnosis is not the end, advocate for human rights says, ABC News, July 10, 2016

Dementia Friendly Kiama project to continue,, June 28, 2016

Dementia Friendly Kiama project extended, Kiama Independent, June 28, 2016

Labor Positive Policy Promises $10 million for trialling new models of respite - National Dementia Strategy Fact Sheet, June, 2016

Taking a lead in dementia awareness, SMH, June 11, 2016

Dementia project in line for another award, Kiama Independent, June 7, 1016

Kiama Dementia Friendly project recognised nationally with local government award, Kiama Independent, May 4, 2016

Alzheimer's Australia CEO John Watkins visits Kiama, Kiama Independent, Feb 19, 2016

Grant will improve life for dementia sufferers, Kiama Independent, Mar 12, 2015

UOW turns Kiama into dementia-friendly town, Illawarra Mercury June 26, 2014

Dementia-Friendly Communities: Kiama public lecture a success, September 22, 2014

The Researchers

Dementia-Friendly Communities and Organisations brings together researchers from diverse fields, include public health, geography, medicine, information systems and technology. 

Dr Lyn Phillipson is a NHMRC-ARC Dementia Fellow with the School of Health and Society | Faculty of Social Sciences and the Australian Health Services Research Institute

Professor Richard Fleming is a Professorial Fellow in UOW’s Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health. 

Professor Chris Cook, former Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, UOW (now retired)

Dr Chris Brennan-Horley is an ARC DECRA Fellow in Human Geography in the Faculty of Social Sciences.

Professor Helen Hasan is an expert in information systems in the Australian Health Services Research Institute in UOW’s Faculty of Business

Dr Danika Hall is a project manager in the Australian Health Services Research Institute

Dr Elizabeth Cridland is a clinical psychologist with the ISLHD and was Associate Research Fellow in the Centre for Health Initiatives in UOW’s Faculty of Social Sciences from 2014-2017.