Belgium - Dementia Friendly Communities

Huis Perrekes
Missing Persons

Out and About with Dementia
Reminiscence Promenades
Together for a dementia friendly Bruges!
Ville Amie Demence

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Picture: Together for a dementia friendly Bruges!

Huis Perrekes

In the city of Geel in Antwerp, members of the community are regularly invited to the Huis Perrekes (House Perrekes), which defines itself as ‘a small-scale living project based on the principle of normalization’ for people with dementia. Within the three homes for people with dementia, various activities that are open to the community take place, including knitting and choir programmes. Great emphasis is placed on intergenerational work, including monthly reading sessions at the local library and an annual Week of Arts which includes numerous art activities. The focus of Huis Perrekes is on ‘the rich and intense inner life of people with dementia’ and ‘the abilities which remain not only what is lost or damaged’.

Missing Persons

Within Antwerp, the Missing Persons project was developed for the police force covering HEKLA, 5 local authority areas (Hove, Edegem, Kontich, Lint and Aartselaar). This initiative is the result of collaboration between the local police and others in the community to rapidly locate and return home missing people with dementia. A joint protocol for the project was developed and signed by the police, local care homes, community-based groups and hospitals. People with dementia who go missing in the area are now located within an average of 2 hours. This network-based approach has been so successful it has been adopted by a number of other local police forces.

Out and About with Dementia

The City of Kortrijk is working in partnership with Italian care home Rifugio Re Carlo Alberto and local councils in Italy on Out and About with Dementia – Creating Dementia-Friendly Community, Leisure, Tourism and Family Activities. This collaboration aims to develop inclusive activities in both Val Pellice in Italy and Kortrijk in Belgium.

Reminiscence Promenades

The city and municipality in Kortrijk in West Flanders is the setting for more dementia friendly work. In 2014, the OCMW Kortrijk nursing home launched their Reminiscence Promenades for the whole community through the district of Aalbeke. The promenades begin and end at the nursing home and feature talks from history guides who share information of historical events in the area as the walk progresses. The routes taken are based on accessible paths and all ages are encouraged to take part.

Together for a dementia friendly Bruges!

Inspired by Alzheimer Scotland’s 2001 booklet Creating dementia friendly communities: a guide, Bruges started work to become Belgium’s first dementia friendly city in 2010. Expertisecentrum Dementie Foton (Foton) founded the initiative Together for a dementia-friendly Bruges! in 2010 with the aim of improving the quality of life of people with dementia and their environment by bringing about a change in thinking about dementia among all citizens, organisations, businesses, institutions and officials.

Among the projects developed so far are: a space on the campaign’s website, www.dementievriendelijkbrugge.be, where carers and family members can share their experiences and thoughts on how Bruges could be made more dementia friendly; a campaign logo designed by a student and chosen by people with dementia; a dementia guide, which provides information about dementia support and services available in Bruges as well as tips for communicating with a person with dementia; a training programme for local businesses, service centres and other groups; The Missing Project Bruges which involved collaboration with local police and the 101 emergency centre; and The customer remains king, a short film aimed at local traders and shopkeepers, explaining the impact their service and business environment can have on people with dementia.

This is one of 16 projects in Belgium that has received support from King Baudouin Foundation, who also worked alongside the Association of Flemish Cities and Municipalities (VVSG) to develop a dementia friendly communities guide book and the The Flemish Dementia-Meter, which assesses existing dementia friendly community projects.

Ville Amie Demence

The country’s La Ligue Alzheimer is supporting more cities across Belgium to become dementia friendly with their Ville Amie Demence project. Local governments are encouraged to sign the Dementia Friendly Cities Charter which states that they will develop a range of services, including dementia training for professionals, setting up an Alzheimer Café, and offering a respite service. The Charter also requires cities to appoint a “Proxidem Agent” to meet, inform and guide people with dementia and carers within the city. To date, 25 cities have signed the Charter and are working to become more dementia friendly. More recently, a collaboration with the federal police aims to prevent and react efficiently and effectively to people with dementia going missing.