‘A dementia friendly community is one where people with dementia feel understood, respected and supported to live independent and fulfilled lives’. There is nothing extraordinary about this definition – perhaps the definition doesn’t surprise you? Maybe you feel that your local community is already a true reflection of this statement?
Unfortunately for many people living with dementia, this simple definition is not a reality. Alzheimer’s Society’s ‘building dementia friendly communities: a priority for everyone’ report found that one in ten people living with the condition leave the house only once a month, due to a perceived lack of awareness and support in their local communities. Stigma surrounds the condition; this stigma is perpetuated by the media, who regularly use the terms ‘time bomb’, ‘victims’ and ‘death sentence’ when describing dementia.
This is why I have been working with The Lowry through their recent membership to the Dementia Action Alliance to help make one of the North West’s most popular visitor attractions more ‘dementia friendly’; so that visitors affected by dementia will feel reassured that their experience will be as supportive and inclusive as possible.
The Lowry has been one of the first cultural venues of its kind to join the Salford Dementia Action Alliance. By doing so, The Lowry has already started taking action to become more ‘dementia friendly’. Staff and volunteers have started to become ‘Dementia Friends’ by attending a free, one hour dementia awareness session which aims to raise awareness and challenge common myths about dementia.
The Lowry has also started consulting local people affected by dementia and responding to their feedback – it was fantastic to see the hugely successful event hosted by the venue during national Dementia Awareness Week this month, which was used to consult with local people with dementia and to hold creative reminiscence workshops in conjunction with the local Salford Museum, hold dementia friendly tours of the gallery and to host a dementia play delivered by local drama undergraduates.
The venue is also exploring the possibility of developing ‘dementia friendly’ performances; taking into account the preferences and needs of people living with dementia- for example the time of day of the performance.
We are only in the early stages of our journey, but already significant progress, and awareness, has been achieved. I look forward to continuing to work with The Lowry as we work together to help make the definition of a dementia friendly community a reality for all people living with the condition.
For more information, please contact Grace Dyke: firstname.lastname@example.org