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Bournemouth University Dementia Institute (BUDI) strives for dementia friendly communities

In the UK it is estimated that approximately 850,000 people are living with dementia, two thirds of which live in the community

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(Alzheimer’s Society 2014a). As more and more of us will experience dementia in some shape or form it is not surprising that there is an increased national focus on supporting and helping people with dementia to live well at home for longer. Whilst there are many benefits to living at home for as long as possible (maintained sense of independence and reduced financial costs on the NHS), living in the community with dementia has its downsides. A recent Alzheimer’s Society report (2014b) has identified that 61% of people with dementia in the UK feel anxious or depressed, 40% feel lonely and 34% do not feel part of their community. Whilst there are many reasons why someone with dementia may feel isolated and excluded from their community, BUDI has been thinking about all the things we can do to make sure our community is inclusive and prevent people with dementia from feeling anxious, depressed lonely and excluded.

In 2014, BUDI conducted an evaluation of eight dementia friendly communities in Dorset. What this showed is that people who live and work in the community, from emergency services to the local shop all want to enhance the experience of living in the community for people living with dementia. Armed with this information BUDI has embarked on a mission to see what we can do and how we can support community dwelling people with dementia through research.

Here are a few examples of the creative ways BUDI have been exploring how people with dementia might be included within the community, and how this can lead to the creation of dementia friendly communities:

Through music

The BUDI Orchestra is a unique music-based initiative that encompassed the spirit of the local community by bringing together

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people with dementia, their carers, students and professional musicians from the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra with the ultimate goal of giving a public performance after ten weeks of rehearsals. Not only did the project positively impact the lives of the BUDI Orchestra, they also touched the hearts of everyone privileged enough to witness their performance. The project promotes the ability of people with dementia to reclaim or learn new skills and provides a fresh outlook to the public: people with dementia “should be valued and supported” as they “still have an important contribution to make” to their communities.

Through technology

The Intergenerational Technology Club (IT Club) brings pupils from a local school together with people with dementia to play, learn and exchange skills and knowledge of using digital gaming (Nintendo Wii, iPads and the Kinect Xbox). This project will provide the pupils with a knowledge base and experience of dementia so that as they grow up they will not be afraid of dementia or people who live with dementia, thereby challenging stigma and creating more inclusive and accepting communities. This project also encourages people with dementia to get out in their community and share their skills and knowledge with the younger generation, as valuable and contributing members of the community.

Through farming

The Care farming project works with men who live with dementia and reside rural communities. This project explores the benefits of farming to improving social interaction and quality of life for those with dementia. This project supports dementia friendly communities by encouraging older men with dementia to be active members of their community by providing them with an opportunity to participate in meaningful activities and to interact with their peers and other people.

Through nature

The community garden project aims to improve well-being and social integration for people with dementia and their carers. Participants will undertake horticultural work as a group whilst enjoying a shared sense of achievement and belonging. By developing the project in the local community the project will help to build a sense of community not only among the participants, but between the participants and the wider public. This offers the public a fresh perspective regarding the ways in which people with dementia can enrich their local community. snoone@bournemouth.ac.uk

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This is what BUDI has been up to but what can you do?

Dementia Friends training is a national Alzheimer’s Society initiative which provides everyone with an understanding of dementia and the small things that could make a difference to people living with dementia in your community. http://alzheimers.org.uk/site/scripts/documents_info.php?documentID=2070

For more information about BUDI and how you could become involved please visit www.bournemouth.ac.uk/dementia-institute

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