NEWS: First Dementia Friendly town in Australia

dfcommunitiesI’ve been promoting the idea of dementia friendly towns and communities in Australia since meeting Sabine Henry at ADI London in 2012, the woman behind the project in Belgium. Belgium at that time had 25 dementia friendly cities, and the project had been recognised by the World Health Organisation. Alzheimer’s Australia is working hard on this at the moment, and although not related to Alzheimer’s Australia’s work, it was terrific to read about this project in Port Macquarie-Hastings, something we can work together on for future projects. As I often say, “What we can’t do alone, we can do together“.

Funding boost for dementia research project

By Tracey Fairhurst, Sept. 23, 2013, midnight, Port MacQuarie News

THE vision of establishing Port Macquarie-Hastings as the first dementia-friendly town in New South Wales is one step closer following the announcement of $10,000 funding to support research into how the region can better care for people living with the disease.

Minister for Ageing and Disability Services John Ajaka announced the funding during a visit to the Hastings where he meet with Port Macquarie MP Leslie Williams and a number of community groups to discuss disability services and aged-related issues.

“Dementia is the single greatest cause of disability in older Australians aged 65 years and older and given that our population is ageing it makes sense that our communities have a greater understanding of the disease,” Mr Ajaka said.

More than 84,000 people are currently living with dementia in NSW and this is estimated to rise to 341,000 by 2050. Port Macquarie-Hastings is currently ranked second in the state for the highest prevalence of dementia. It is also among the fastest growing populations in NSW, expected to soar by 19.3 percent over the next 20 years with residents aged 65 and over to more than double.

“The Port Macquarie Dementia Project Group will use the funding to research how Port Macquarie, as one of the state’s most desirable places to retire, can better cater for people who are affected by dementia,” Mr Ajaka said.

The research will be conducted by Southern Cross University and will explore design options to ensure public places and residences are more accessible and safe.

Mrs Williams said dementia is a 21st century disease and should be a high priority for the whole community.

“It is important that all levels of government have a clear understanding of the impact that dementia is having and will continue to have on our community,” Mrs Williams said.

Regional director of Alzheimer’s Australia Gary Thomas said the Port Macquarie Dementia Project Group has the support of Alzheimer’s Australia, Hastings District Respite Care and interested community representatives.

“The community also has a role in helping people with dementia feel connected with each other and so much of that comes from people being able to identify it when they encounter someone who has it,” Mr Thomas said.

“We want to combat negative attitudes towards dementia and promote greater inclusion which could be through walking groups, choirs, school programs, work place engagement and the use of technology.”

8 thoughts on “NEWS: First Dementia Friendly town in Australia

  1. In 2001 I visited Sweden looking at best practice is dementia care and was made aware of their Sala Project, where everyone in the community underwent training in understanding dementia. This was compulsory and included everyone in the town including politians, shopkeepers, taxi drivers and school children etc. Apart from education, the aim was to enable people living with dementia to live in their own homes and in their community for as long as possible. The whole community contribute to this social care plan. The project commenced by identifying what people knew about this disease. From these findings they were able to identify where and what education to put into place. Part of the project was to ensure that every person living with dementia, and their relative to have a contact person who would be available 24/7.
    I do hope this project, and those like it have been investigated as part of the NSW project.

  2. I’m always concerned when I see the phrase “money will fund research” when I know that the research has already happened elsewhere: is it not possible to use other people’s research so that the money can be put to activating the research findings? Feels like we often reinvent the wheel. Rant over. x

    • As always Alison, you have a VERY VALID point… Knowledge translation – or lack of – was a ig topic at the Dementia Research Forum last weekend in Brisbane. Keep up with your very appropriate and intelligent rants… x

  3. hear hear dear kate, you certainly keep AA on their toes, what wonderful ideas you have for them to put into action keep up the great work love you xxxx

  4. Hopefully they ask people living with dementia how they could be included their community and what they would like. You’d hate to think that such an opportunity could end up with well meaning carers organising bingo and finger painting for all.

    This is a opportunity for the new national people living with dementia group to be involved.

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