Representatives from the Forster Tuncurry and Taree Wingham areas have officially launched their commitment to making their communities more dementia-friendly.
A dementia-friendly community is a place where people with dementia are supported to live a high quality of life with meaning, purpose and value.
Spearheaded by Stephen Bromhead MP, Member for Myall Lakes, steering committees were established last year in Forster Tuncurry and Taree Wingham, each conducting focus groups with people living with dementia, their families and carers.
The committees went on to work with local businesses, educating them on some of the dementia-friendly steps they can take, including the incorporation of dementia-friendly principles into their environments and service procedures, staff training, improved accessibility and inclusiveness.
Representatives also spent time presenting on the topic of dementia-friendly communities to a number of local community groups.
Thanks to this work, a number of local businesses have already been accredited as being dementia-friendly, including Ashlea Road Boutique, Betta Home Electrical, Wignham Gym, GPB Accountants & Business Advisors, Great Lakes Tackle Shop and Priceline Pharmacy Forster.
GPB Accountants & Business Advisors Taree representative Christy Forrest with MP Stephen Bromhead
Priceline Pharmacy Forster representatives Narelle Hodges and Kristi Douglas, with MP Stephen Bromhead presenting
Stephen Bromhead MP, Member for Myall Lakes said the committees hope to build upon and expand its achievements so far in the coming years.
“The initiative is a movement to increase social connection and inclusion for people living with dementia and their carers. By educating the community, we can not only help to reduce stigma, but also ensure members of the public recognise the signs of dementia and are equipped to offer support if necessary,” Mr Bromhead said.
“We would like to encourage other individuals and organisations interested in taking steps toward becoming more dementia-friendly to make contact.”
The Hon. John Watkins AM, CEO Alzheimer’s Australia NSW said Forster Tuncurry and Taree Wingham are setting a great example for other communities considering taking similar steps.
“With the alarming rates of dementia prevalence set to continue to rise in the coming years, it is important that people impacted by the condition are enabled to stay in their communities for as long as they are able, and that they are supported to live active and meaningful lives,” Mr Watkins said.
Merv Gillies, a former carer, said it was inspiring to know there are people in his own community committed to creating a space that is safe and welcoming for people living with dementia and their carers.
“Thank goodness there are people in communities today trying to understand, trying to make things better and caring enough to make it happen,” Mr Gillies said.
In the Myall Lakes state electorate there is estimated to be 2,300 people living with dementia, which is expected to increase to an estimated 2,850 people by 2025 and 4,700 by 2056.
The initiative was officially launched on Monday 4 September 2017 during an event at Club Taree, 121 Wingham Rd, Taree. For further information, call Alison Fowles on 02 6554 5097 or email Alison.Fowles@alzheimers.org.au