A Tasmanian mayor would like to see councils “align efforts” to do more for people with dementia after winning an award for her council’s dementia initiatives, which include pop-up memory cafes and “dementia-friendly” accreditation for local businesses.
Central Coast Council, situated in the north-west of the state between Burnie and Devonport, took out the award for Delivering Excellence – Larger Councils at the Local Government Association Tasmania awards earlier this month for its Dementia-Friendly Central Coast Framework.
The framework provides a roadmap for improving life and access to services for the growing number of people with dementia, and is the first of its kind to be adopted by a Tasmanian council.
The framework includes a toolkit of practical initiatives tailored to meet local priorities and designed in consultation with local residents who are living with dementia and their carers.
It’s estimated that 332 of Central Coast’s 21,360 residents are currently living with dementia. The figure is expected to grow to 579 by 2027 and approach 800 by 2037.
“Many communities are now facing the challenges of an increasingly aging population, and the Dementia-Friendly Central Coast project is part of the Central Coast active aging journey,” Mayor Jan Bonde told Government News on Thursday.
“When council was investigating the change need for the Dementia-Friendly Central Coast Framework, it was revealed that nearly three quarters of people consulted considered that “creating a dementia-friendly community was ‘everybody’s business.
“Within a collaborative network of service providers, stakeholders, people living with dementia, carers and volunteers, the Council hope to shape Central Coast into a place where people living with dementia are supported to live a high quality of life with meaning, purpose and value.”
Helping people with dementia connect
A key initiative of the framework is the establishment of “Connect Cafes” which provide a safe and encouraging environment for people with and their carers.
More than 40 volunteer-run cafes “popped-up” once a week between 2018-2019, with about 30 people taking advantage of them each week and enjoying activities including circus performances, pet therapy and regular live music.
“Short-term benefits for people living with dementia, carers and older residents include social inclusion and connection and recreational and learning opportunities,” Cr Bond said.
Meanwhile, Council also offers Inclusion Training, developed in conjunction with Tasmanian Health Services, to local businesses and community organisations to boost awareness and reduce the stigma surrounding dementia.
The training includes workshops on adapting services to make them more dementia-friendly, with participants receiving a Dementia-Friendly accreditation certificate to display in their shopfront.
“Improving dementia knowledge of local businesses and community groups raises awareness of dementia in the short term, and potentially reduces stigma that often results in social isolation of people living with dementia over the longer term,” Cr Bonde said.
She admits it was initially challenging to fund the initiatives but Council’s work in the area has been made possible by state government funding and project partners donating their time, as the assistance of volunteers.
“The Central Coast dementia-friendly initiatives are replicable and portable,” Cr Bond said.
“It is exciting to think of the possibility of aligning the efforts of contributing councils to increase the many benefits to be gained for people living with dementia and their carers.”
Central Coast was a worthy recipient of the award on all accounts, LGAT CEO Katrena Stephenson said.
“When we judge our awards for excellence we look at some key criteria such as innovation, how easily other councils could adapt the idea and what impact it is having in the community, and this particular project stood out to the judge on all those categories,” she told Community Care Review.
The five principles of Central Coast Council’s dementia-friendly action plan:
- People with dementia are valued and respected members of the community
- Creating a dementia-friendly community is everybody’s business
- Places, businesses and services are welcoming and enabling for people living with dementia
- Community decisions respond to the needs and aspirations of people with dementia and their carers
- Become a dementia-friendly community is an ongoing process
Find out more about Central Coast’s Dementia-Friendly Central Coast Initiatives here.
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