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Dementia Friendly Towns

The Dementia Friendly Town project, an initiative of Alzheimer’s WA, empowers rural communities to support people living with dementia to live as well as possible for as long as possible. The scale of these projects are the first of their kind in Australia.

A dementia diagnosis is often accompanied by stigma, isolation, discrimination and misunderstanding which can impede the person with dementia living with meaning and purpose in the community. People with dementia deserve to participate in everyday life, and require support and understanding to do so.

Through this project, participating community members and businesses were educated on the background of dementia, how to recognise symptoms, how to communicate with a person living with dementia in the community and workplace, and steps to take to enrich the community and workplace.

Manjimup, Margaret River, Toodyay and York were pilot sites for Australia’s first ever Dementia Friendly Community towns in their entirety.  The learnings from these towns will inform future Dementia Friendly Communities initiatives.

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During the pilot project from July 2017 to June 2019 Alzheimer’s WA worked with the local community, businesses, and the Manjimup Shire to develop a whole of town approach to being dementia friendly. Key achievements included:

  • Quiet hour introduced at Coles Manjimup
  • Additional signage on the street
  • Training members of the Manjimup Men’s Shed to support one of their members
  • Initiative for students from York District High School to visit residents at Balladong Lodge and spend time playing games and puzzles
  • Introduction of a Memory Café in York and York
  • Redesign of public toilets to be more dementia and age friendly
  • Training of staff in local businesses including cafés, retail and other frontline staff
  • Education for the community about what is dementia and how to be dementia friendly

The outcomes were much greater than we could ever have predicted. Each of the communities completely embraced the initiative and now feel more confident and more empowered on how best to support and involve people living with dementia. People living with dementia are also feeling more supported and welcome in their community.

Alzheimer’s WA are grateful to the communities for embracing this project. In particular, we wish to acknowledge:

  • Shire of Manjimup
  • Baptist Care Moonya, Manjimup
  • Manjimup Community Resource Centre
  • Shire of Toodyay
  • Shire of Augusta and Margaret River
  • Margaret River Rotary Club
  • Margaret River Lions Club
  • Shire of York
  • Balladong Lodge, York
  • York District High School

The Dementia Friendly Communities project is funded by the WA Country Health Service as part of the Southern Inland Health Initiative.

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