How can we help people with a dementia participate in community life?
Over 850,000 people live with a dementia in the UK today, with numbers set to rise ¹. With greater pressure to help people live well with the condition at home, new challenges emerge in how people’s care needs can be met in their own communities. Those needs include access to the same facilities, services, and opportunities as everyone else. For example, access to heritage sites and activities offers an important route to wellbeing outcomes for those with a dementia diagnosis. Yet, exclusion is common, reflecting stigma attached to the condition and a lack of opportunities to participate fully in community life. These opportunities should respond to the needs, interests, and capabilities of those with a dementia diagnosis, rather than be designed for someone with dementia – a critical position in person-centred care today.
1 Alzheimer’s Research UK. Dementia Statistics Hub. Available at https://www.dementiastatistics.org/
A Wicked Problem
A classic wicked problem, the question of how to support those with dementia in community life looks very different when working from the needs of an individual, a family, a community, or from the perspective of anyone with a dementia (where ever they may be). A clumsy solution might ask how individuals (including those with a dementia) can be empowered to shape local responses, harness community capital, and reveal where local action might be scaled across a region and beyond. With this in mind, supersum has approached the UK Meeting Centres programme run by the Association for Dementia Studies (ADS) at the University of Worcester. Meeting Centres (operating across Europe) support people living with mild-to-moderate dementia to cope with the transitions dementia brings. We believe that Meeting Centres are uniquely well-placed to tackle the challenge of building dementia-inclusive communities.
“Globally, the numbers of people living with dementia will increase from 50m in 2018 to 152m in 2050, a 204% increase”
Alzheimer’s Research UK. Dementia Statistics Hub. Available at https://www.dementiastatistics.org/
The Story So Far
Building on the success of Dementia Connect, the Heritage Pathfinders programme has helped creative and heritage professionals from Leominster and Herefordshire region work more closely with members of Leominster Meeting Centre. Together, they have developed 12 new experimental heritage-engagement projects, methods, toolkits and experiences, funded through an £18K micro-grant scheme. Projects have spanned oral history, blacksmithing, archaeology, spoken-word, Fine art, music improvisation, questions of faith, object histories, and digital storytelling. A full programme report including case studies, resources and next steps will be published in January 2023. Heritage Pathfinders is a partnership between Leominster Meeting Centre, supersum, and ADS (funded by The Tudor Trust and Herefordshire Community Foundation).