Another way to consider ‘dementia-friendly’

This is an important blog written by Dr Shibley Rahman, with commentary also well worth reading. I too am concerned about our communities being called ‘Dementia-friendly’, and as Shibley said recently, there is no way it would be acceptable to say we are becoming ‘Black-friendly’. This is similar to the analogy I use for conferences about people with dementia, without them; there is no way for example, the gay community would accept a conference about their issues organised by heterosexuals, with only heterosexual speakers. As we develop communities and organisations that become more ‘Dementia-aware’, the lived experience for people with dementia will ultimately improve, but we do need to be careful we are not simply selling a sticker or ‘brand’ that merely improves businesses, and not the lived experience.

Let’s stop dementia awareness becoming a cult. I am proposing a new opensource approach.

Published by Shibley Rahman, 9 May 2014.

“After all the whingeing, after talking with some close friends, I wished to offer something constructive.

I am not saying at all that “Dementia Friends” is a cult.

But cults are fascinating phenomena.

Cults have a number of key sociological characteristics.

And these are authoritarian leadership, exclusivism, isolationism, opposition to independent thinking, and a fear of being ‘disfellowshipped”.

It’s likely that, following the next general election, local authorities will have more of a say in commissioning for whole person care, making the necessary links with leisure, education and housing.

There is considerable ‘competitive advantage’ to be had in marketing from ‘Dementia Friends’.

Throwing forward, I don’t wish to see a situation where government-backed projects stifle innovation or knowledge-sharing, which I feel are interests of the left wing as well as the right wing.

So here it goes.

It really is time we talked about the concept of “dementia friendly communities”.

What’s in a name? A rose by any other name might smell as sweet.

I don’t think you should have to wear your dementia awareness on your lapel, after a bare minimum of sessions. Or you need to go through a standards body to get accreditated in your dementia friendly community.

It’s well known chasing targets and getting that regulatory piece of paper has seen the NHS ‘hitting the target but missing the point’, as the former CEO of NHS England, Sir David Nicholson, put it.”

Please read the whole article…

4 thoughts on “Another way to consider ‘dementia-friendly’

  1. … here in West Yorkshire we had the publication last year of the local authorities ‘Bold Approach to Dementia’ – working on a daily basis with people with dementia, we wanted to know exactly what that meant … for the people themselves, their families and how local parties could join up and work together. It’s impossible to get any comment at all even from the local councillor who signed the ‘Bold’ strategy off … similarly, there are now plans to make the authority ‘dementia-friendly’ … yet there are no initiatives, no training, no money, and of course, no ‘voice’ or involvement of local people with dementia in any of this. My worry is that there is an obligation placed on LAs from central government and then something is ‘cobbled’ together to make it look as if something is being down …


    • It is interesting that all these negative stories are coming out of the woodwork now that we’ve brought it up… Shibley and I have made a pact to try and create some change in this area. Thanks for sharing Jeff…


  2. Wow, just read the article. The writer makes very very good sense. I have been seeing ‘dementia friendly’ used more and more frequently in the last couple of months and on more than one occasion when seeing the ‘building – care – signage – awareness of staff etc’ wonder how the heck they interpret the term. Maybe it’s a badge that is received from doing a short course, maybe it’s ticking boxes on a form? Next time I come across it, I am going to pluck up courage and ask what exactly does that mean? Fantastic blog Kate, thank you.


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