Netherlands - Dementia Friendly Communities

Albert Heijn, dementia friendly store
Alzheimer Café

DemenTalent
Dementia Friends
Windesheim University of Applied Sciences study

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Picture: Alzheimer Café

Albert Heijn, dementia friendly store

In December 2015, Dutch supermarket chain Albert Heijn announced a new partnership with The Hague’s city council and care-provider Royaal Zorg. Earlier in the year, staff at Albert Heijn’s Doorn store received training from Alzheimer Nederland to help to recognise if a customer may have dementia and how to assist them. The new scheme will see staff at two Albert Heijn stores in The Hague receive training with the addition of an in-store care volunteer who will be available to provide support and advice should a person require it. The two stores chosen to implement the programme were selected due to the existing community relations in the area and the familiarity between staff and regular customers. The hope is that this project will be rolled out in more stores in the future.

Alzheimer Café

The concept of the Alzheimer Café was established in the Netherlands as a vehicle for providing a welcoming atmosphere in an accessible location for all people with or affected by dementia. The first Alzheimer Café took place in 1997 in a collaboration between Dr Bère Miesen and the regional branch of Alzheimer Nederland in north Zuid-Holland. There are now 230 Alzheimer Cafés run by volunteers in the Netherlands with around 35,000 unique visitors each year. Although people with dementia and their families, friends or carers are core attendees, others with an interest in dementia, such as students, local politicians, the media and those who want to find out more about dementia can attend an Alzheimer Café. The event usually begins with a discussion or presentation on a particular theme followed by a less structured period where those attending can share their experiences, thoughts and ideas with others. To support some of the country’s minority communities, Alzheimer Tea Houses were introduced for those whose first language is Moroccan or Turkish. Due to their success in the Netherlands, Alzheimer Cafés have been adopted in more than 15 countries around the world, sometimes as part of a wider dementia friendly community initiative. The concept has been introduced in countries such as Argentina, Aruba and Curaçao where broader dementia friendly community projects do not currently exist. To support this international implementation, Alzheimer Nederland has developed a guide for setting up an Alzheimer Café.

DemenTalent

DemenTalent aims to build upon the talents of people with dementia, offering them a voluntary role within their community based on their abilities. The benefits of this project, which was launched in 2012, are two-fold as people with dementia benefit emotionally and communities are presented with images of people with dementia as capable and talented individuals. Examples of placements to date include a local radio station, a nursery, a football club and the Forestry Commission.

Dementia Friends

In September 2015, Alzheimer Nederland presented their long-term plan to make the Netherlands dementia friendly. A partnership with the organisers of Dement Talent will see further roll out the programme, and a Dementia Friends initiative was launched. Inspired by the success of similar campaigns in Japan and the UK, the aim of the programme is to increase awareness and understanding of dementia. A target has been set to have one million Dementia Friends and the programme reaching all households in the country by 2020. The development of an online platform for local and national dementia friendly projects to be promoted was also in development. Alzheimer Nederland’s 51 regional branches are working alongside local service providers to develop dementia friendly activities and 60 municipalities are working to become dementia friendly.

Windesheim University of Applied Sciences study

Recently, students at the Windesheim University of Applied Sciences carried out a study into how professional education can contribute to a dementia friendly community. As part of the study, five pilot interventions were developed in Zwolle and Meppel, all with a focus on integration and participation: Aqua-mentia, a swimming programme for people with dementia and their carers; Dementheek, a dementia shop; dementia friendly local policies; awareness training to promote positive views of dementia; a Dementia Friendly Hospital programme; and a dementia simulation kit. These interventions were facilitated and evaluated by applied gerontology and nursing students at the university. The study found that working with people with dementia and their carers helped to reduce stigma among students, gave them an opportunity to develop innovative programmes and that students in professional education could play an important part in dementia friendly communities.