The demographic ageing of the population has brought an increase in the number of people living with dementia. International estimates are 46 million, with this number expected to rise to 138 million by 2050. Coping with the increased prevalence of dementia demands a shift in both the social and the physical environments in which we live.
Dementia Friendly Communities
The ‘Dementia Friendly Kiama’ project is a partnership between the University of Wollongong (UOW) Global Challenges Program, the Kiama Municipal Council, the Kiama community and Dementia Australia.
The project utilises a Community-based Participatory Action Research framework to inform the development, implementation and evaluation of a dementia-friendly community intervention.
Initial research in Kiama included:
- interviews and mapping exercises with people with dementia and their carers
- community and business surveys
- piloting a Dementia-friendly business toolkit
- the development of an environmental assessment tool for use in the auditing of public buildings.
This research guided the Action Plan of a local Dementia Alliance and Dementia Advisory Group. Evaluative research activities monitored inputs, outputs, impacts and outcomes of the project.
Dementia-friendly Kiama Evaluation Flyer
Dementia Friendly Communities
In 2014, UOW announced the NSW South Coast town of Kiama, which has a significant older population, would be the pilot site for a bold new project aimed at creating dementia-friendly communities throughout Australia.
Project outcomes and publications
Key achievements include:
- The empowerment of people living with dementia including opportunities for civic participation, social inclusion and peer support through the Southern Dementia Advisory Group and other Dementia Friendly Kiama activities
- Improved community understanding and increased positive attitudes with regard to the capabilities of people living with dementia. This has been achieved via education sessions (with over 1000 attendances) and the development of information resources including the ‘Dementia Illawarra Shoalhaven’ website
- Tools to improve the physical environment including the Dementia Friendly Communities Environmental Assessment Tool (DFC-EAT) and the establishment of the ‘OurPlace’ Kiama mapping tool
- Public recognition and acclaim: Excellence in Community Partnerships Award at the National Disability Awards (2016), World Health Organisation recognition at the 7th Global Conference for the Alliance of Healthy Cities (2016),
National Award for Local Government in the Disability Access and Inclusion category (2016)
- Impact on Policy
Phillipson, Brennan-Horley and Fleming made a submission (no 145) to the House Standing Committee on Infrastructure, Transport and Cities. The focus of the submission was regarding the economic and social imperative for transitioning cities and regional development to promote dementia and aged friendly environments. Following their submission they were invited to appear before the committee as part of a public hearing on Friday March 23 2018. Evidence presented during this enquiry drew on learnings from the Dementia Friendly Kiama project.
- Impact on National Practice - The model and tools informed Dementia Australia’s $3.9 million ‘National Dementia Friendly Communities Strategy’ funded by the Department of Health (2017-2021).
- Follow-on projects such as the ‘Dementia Enabling University Strategy’ have increased opportunities for students from five faculties to study the impact of dementia and consider their role in the creation of dementia friendly communities.
- Dementia-friendly community to host free workshop in Gerroa, Kiama Independent, July 18, 2018
- Get Blue Haven residents bopping, donate your old iPod shuffles, Kiama Independent, May 8, 2018
- 'Social Dancing for People with Dementia’ is back, Kiama Independent, April 13, 2018
- Dance proves too powerful for dementia, Kiama Independent, September 1, 2017
- From law to engineering: university puts dementia focus across disciplines, Ageing Agenda, June 3, 2016
- Dementia Friendly Kiama Project wins national disability award, Illawarra Mercury, Nov 10, 2016
- Building a Dementia Friendly Australia, WIN TV, Nov 29, 2016
- Kiama Dementia Friendly Project project wins WHO award, Kiama Independent, August 31, 2016
- Dementia diagnosis is not the end, advocate for human rights says, ABC News, July 10, 2016
- Dementia Friendly Kiama project extended, Kiama Independent, June 28, 2016
- Labor Positive Policy Promises $10 million for trialling new models of respite - National Dementia Strategy Fact Sheet, June, 2016
- Taking a lead in dementia awareness, SMH, June 11, 2016
- Dementia project in line for another award, Kiama Independent, June 7, 2016
- Kiama Dementia Friendly project recognised nationally with local government award, Kiama Independent, May 4, 2016
- Alzheimer's Australia CEO John Watkins visits Kiama, Kiama Independent, Feb 19, 2016
- Providers need to consider the barriers to respite use by carers, Ageing Agenda, July 31, 2015
- Grant will improve life for dementia sufferers, Kiama Independent, Mar 12, 2015
- UOW turns Kiama into dementia-friendly town, Illawarra Mercury June 26, 2014
- Dementia-Friendly Communities: Kiama public lecture a success, September 22, 2014
Dementia-Friendly Communities and Organisations brings together researchers from diverse fields, include public health, geography, medicine, information systems and technology.
- Dr Lyn Phillipson is a NHMRC-ARC Dementia Fellow with the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, and the Australian Health Services Research Institute
- Professor Richard Fleming is a Professorial Fellow in UOW’s Faculty of Science, Medicine and Health
- Professor Chris Cook, former Executive Dean of the Faculty of Engineering and Information Sciences, UOW (now retired)
- Dr Chris Brennan-Horley is an ARC DECRA Fellow in Human Geography in the Faculty of the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities
- Professor Helen Hasan is an expert in information systems in the Australian Health Services Research Institute in UOW’s Faculty of Business and Law
- Dr Danika Hall is a project manager in the Australian Health Services Research Institute
Dr Elizabeth Cridland is a clinical psychologist with the ISLHD and was Associate Research Fellow in the Centre for Health Initiatives in UOW’s Faculty of Social Sciences from 2014-2017.
This project is working towards the UN Sustainable Development Goals: