New Zealand - Dementia Friendly Communities

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Dementia-friendly New Zealand

In 2015, Alzheimers New Zealand adopted a new strategy and a new mission that is shared with its Members, local Alzheimer organisations that provide services in communities around the country, supporting people with dementia and those affected by dementia to live well in their communities. The Strategy and Mission reflect Alzheimers New Zealand's shared commitment to achieving a dementia-friendly New Zealand. The Strategy includes a positive, clear definition of what a dementia-friendly New Zealand looks like, which now guides Alzheimers New Zealand's work under its new Mission.

The first step in implementing the 2015 Strategy was the launch of a new national awareness campaign – a television and online advertising campaign encouraging people to get their heads around dementia because understanding dementia is the first step in building dementia-friendly communities, where people with dementia are valued, are able to contribute and participate as they wish, and where they feel safe. The campaign also features the stories of people affected by dementia.

The next step in achieving a dementia-friendly New Zealand, and implementing the 2015 Strategy, has been Alzheimers New Zealand's work on developing a programme to formally recognise organisations and businesses as dementia-friendly.

The aim is to launch the Recognition Programme as part of World Alzheimer's Month in September 2016. Achieving that launch will be the result of a development process that has drawn from the experience of other countries where national Alzheimer associations already have recognition programmes in place, and will be informed by a pilot involving three well-established national organisations, before it is finalised, launched and implemented nationally.

The Dementia-friendly Recognition Programme encourages creative and innovative practices in the process of a business or organisation becoming dementia-friendly, which involves making tangible changes to create a positive and inclusive environment for people with dementia. At the same time, the programme maintains emphasis on the standards set for recognition and assuring that organisations continue to meet them, including through establishing meaningful reporting measures that focus on dementia-friendly initiatives and outcomes.

The programme is an addition to the toolbox of activities for raising public awareness of dementia, promoting the dementia-friendly campaign, and assisting people living with dementia to know that an organisation has met the Alzheimers New Zealand dementia-friendly recognition programme standards.

One of the fascinating things about making changes to be dementia-friendly is that all of those changes will make things easier and better for many other people in communities across New Zealand as well, creating even greater gain for people, businesses and communities as a whole.
In 2016, Alzheimers New Zealand will commence work to develop a Dementia Friends programme, which will be based on the successful programmes in Japan and the United Kingdom.
Development of these programmes builds on a number of earlier activities across the country involving Members of Alzheimers New Zealand, District Health Boards and other organisations working in the wider dementia community. In 2014, Alzheimers Wellington developed a publication Understanding and respecting customers with dementia: A guide for staff, which it developed as a specific tool to support the many and various organisations, retailers and service providers in its area, and Alzheimers Canterbury developed a publication Don’t Fence Me In: Living in the community with dementia, which features stories of people living with dementia in the community.

Government health sector policy in New Zealand, which is implemented through the country's District Health Boards, includes Dementia Care Pathways to better support people with dementia and maximise their independence and wellbeing.

Alzheimers New Zealand is also working alongside the Office for Seniors, part of the Ministry of Social Development, to incorporate dementia-friendly criteria into their age-friendly cities programme. There is growing interest in this programme and five cities are working now towards becoming age-friendly.

There are also numerous activities around the country through various groups of health and social care providers, including Alzheimers New Zealand organisations, people with dementia and their care partners, working together to find ways of better enabling people to live well with dementia in their communities.

Dementia-friendly Bank

In 2015, Alzheimers Auckland worked in collaboration with a major bank that is committed to becoming the first dementia-friendly bank in New Zealand.

Making Christchurch dementia-friendly

In 2011, following the earthquakes that devastated Christchurch in 2010 and 2011 in which numerous buildings were destroyed, a research project funded by the Canterbury District Health Board and Age Concern Canterbury looked at ways that Christchurch could be made more dementia-friendly through the re-building process.