Geraldton joins dementia friendly communities

Alzheimer’s Australia WA has made a big commitment to progressing the WA Dementia-Friendly Communities project by partnering with the WA Museum – Geraldton, the Regional Art Gallery and the City of Greater Geraldton to become dementia friendly pilot sites.

City of Greater Geraldton Mayor, Ian Carpenter, says this project is an Australian first and provides the opportunity to increase awareness, advocacy and understanding.

“A dementia-friendly community is a place where people living with dementia are supported to live a high quality of life with meaning, purpose and value.

“The City’s QEII Seniors and Community Centre will look to at changessuch as the types of language that we use, talking to staff about dementia, or keeping spaces clean and clear of clutter,” Mayor Carpenter said.

WA Museum – Geraldton Regional Manager Catherine Belcher said the Museum is making changes to become more supportive of people living with dementia.

“The Museum has completed a dementia-friendly audit tool to begin the project, and this week staff are undertaking living with dementia awareness training,” Ms Belcher said.

“The WA Museum – Geraldton aims to not only help people living with the condition, but also their carers, and to support people to stay socially connected.”

Director of the Geraldton Regional Art Gallery, James Davies, said he was very pleased that the Gallery’s recent $1.5M refurbishment of the gallery building and its layout aligns with the guidelines set out by Alzheimer’s Australia.               

“The Arts can and should play a pivotal role in increasing public awareness and understanding of the special needs of those afflicted by dementia as well as the critical role of carers in our community” said Mr Davies.

“One of the major things that we need to remember is that 70 per cent of people with dementia live at home in the community and 30 per cent of those live alone. Becoming dementia-friendly is a community challenge more than it is a residential aged care challenge,” said Mayor Carpenter.

The City of Greater Geraldton and Alzheimer’s Australia WA will work together to make positive changes for consumers living with dementia. The key areas people living with dementia have asked us to target are:

  1. Reducing stigma through improved awareness of dementia in the general community.
  2. Developing of dementia enabling physical access
  3. Increasing awareness of customers’ needs with dementia in businesses and services.
  4. Increasing support and information for families and carers.
  5. Improving access to social clubs and activities for people living with dementia.
  6. Providing accessible person-centred dementia care and support services.
  7. Improving transport services.
  8. Increasing knowledge of dementia in medical professionals.

Alzheimer’s Australia WA CEO Rhonda Parker said the report provided the most first step in the journey to making a dementia friendly nation. The research was innovative in its state wide approach to consultation because it brought people living with dementia, carers and dementia professionals together in workshops.

“With 32,000 people living with dementia in Western Australia, and that projection set to grow over the next few decades as the population ages, WA needs to consider what strategies should be in place in the future and where our energies need to be focussed,” Ms Parker said.

“It is the first time anywhere in Australia that people with dementia were sought in communities across the state to shape the future.”

“Local government has shown great leadership and enthusiasm for this project,” Ms Parker said

“The City of Greater Geraldton, WA Museum – Geraldton and Geraldton Regional Art Gallery are leading the way in developing dementia-friendly communities,” Ms Parker said.

This project is an Australian first on how to create dementia-friendly communities and provide the opportunity to increase awareness, advocacy and understanding.