Canada - Dementia Friendly Communities

In 2015, the Government of Canada and the Alzheimer Society of Canada introduced Dementia Friends Canada, as established in the UK. The programme is primarily a digital campaign to create awareness, reduce stigma and foster inclusiveness of people living with dementia. The programme provides information about dementia and the support that individuals can offer to people with dementia and their care partners. Just two years after launching, the program has surpassed its target of 1 million Dementia Friends. 

The Alzheimer Society of British Columbia (B.C.)’s Dementia-Friendly Communities initiative provides tools and education that, through forging strategic partnerships, are enabling local governments, the professional sector, community groups and the general public to become dementia friendly. A central element of the Dementia-Friendly Communities initiative is working in partnership with local governments across the province. Highlights to date include efforts in the City of Vancouver, the City ofcBurnaby, the Town of Qualicum Beach, the District of West Vancouver, the City of North Vancouver and the District of North Vancouver. In January 2015, the City of New Westminster became the first Council in B.C. to become dementia friendly by receiving Dementia Friends education from the Society. They also led the way as the first local government in B.C. to develop a Dementia-Friendly Action Plan. Numerous resources have been developed to support the initiative, including a toolkit for local governments and tools to help legal, financial, recreation and housing professionals make their workplaces more dementia friendly.

The Alzheimer Society of Ontario is in the early stages of developing Dementia Friendly Communities. While working in partnership with other provinces, building on the national Dementia Friends campaign and Age Friendly Communities, as well as learning from global partners, 10 local Societies have trained over 2,000 individuals in the last six months in dementia friendly practices. This is achieved through initiatives like the Blue Umbrella Programme, a partnership that focuses on training businesses and financial institutions as well as larger scale Dementia Friendly Communities training. This training expands partnership opportunities to multi-service sectors which include, but are not limited to, recreational service providers, transportation, government officials and religious institutions. People with dementia and their care partners are at the forefront of the development, delivery and evaluation of this training. They have opportunities to become involved through advisory councils, as volunteer advisors to partners and training co-facilitators. In September 2017, an online page and recognition programme dedicated to DFC Ontario will be launched. Sector-specific education modules are also in development to cater to the unique needs of service providers. All individuals are encouraged to become Dementia Friends as their individual call to action and employers are encouraged to ensure staff are trained and changes are made to their policies, procedures and physical space to become more dementia friendly.

The Saskatchewan Dementia Friendly Communities initiative was launched by the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan (ASOS) in January 2017. The initiative focuses on phrasing that indicates communities have committed to become more dementia friendly, rather than designating or accrediting a community as being “friendly.” Local stakeholders, media and other members of the community attended the launch where they learned about the Dementia Friendly Communities concept and plans moving forward. Since the launch, the ASOS consulted with their colleagues at the Alzheimer Society of B.C. to further build on the Dementia Friendly Communities initiative, including the adaptation of a municipal toolkit to help both rural and urban communities to become more dementia friendly. The ASOS is also conducting research and literature reviews that will help inform customizable toolkits for additional sectors and specific to the Saskatchewan setting. The Society is also developing presentations on Dementia Friendly Communities, a supporting curriculum, and is maintaining a website: www. Currently, there are nearly 500 Dementia Friends in Saskatchewan that receive monthly newsletters. These subscribers are being engaged on an individual basis to build awareness and reduce stigma in their communities. The intent is that together we are building dementia friendly communities – one friend at a time. The Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan is also identifying other communities that may be interested in becoming more dementia friendly. Because the province has already welcomed the concept of age friendly communities, ASOS hopes to build on this progress by leveraging these connections.