DVSC's Dementia Aware Community Led Programme was enabled through Welsh Government funding to support local delivery of the Dementia Action Plan. It was set up in 2019 to support communities to generate and transfer awareness around dementia into community led action.
As the programme developed, the plan supported individuals, voluntary and community groups, third sector organisations, care organisations and community focused businesses to raise awareness about dementia in their local communities and encouraged adaptations to services and activities to make them more inclusive.
The ambition was to collectively build a movement for change across the county, establishing and supporting a Dementia Aware Denbighshire Community Network to share best practice and keep up momentum.
NB - you will see both the phrases 'Dementia Friendly' and 'Dementia Aware' within this book. 'Dementia Friendly' is used specifically where a town has already been awarded the title by Alzheimer's Society. Steering groups can still relate to 'Dementia Aware' towns, moving forward.
On the next page is a film that was funded by the very first round of Dementia Aware Community Grants in 2019 and it tells the story of what local shops in Ruthin are already doing to help people living with dementia. It shows that it doesn't have to be difficult, or involve spending lots of money, it can simply be caring about customers, giving them time and providing support.
The film received a launch at DVSC, Naylor Leyland Centre on 18th July 2019, after which it went on YouTube and has been shared on social media and within training courses, inspiring other areas to do the same.
Alzheimer's Society required a steering group to be set up within a town that wishes to work towards becoming dementia friendly. It can be useful for towns who wish to do more for dementia in their community, but it sounds complicated. How do towns start one? We will use Denbigh as an example here who have been recognised by Alzheimer's Society as working towards becoming Dementia Friendly.
In 2017, a group of like-minded residents set up a steering group to work towards helping Denbigh to become a Dementia Friendly town with the help of Alzheimer's Society. They have a Chair, a Treasurer and a Secretary who are all residents of Denbigh. The group were successful in getting their accreditation in 2019 and have managed to run successfully with no breaks.
Dementia Friendly Denbigh has been a familiar sight around the Denbigh and Ruthin area, as well as further afield. They have supported various local projects, including The Forget Me Not Group Coffee Mornings, the dementia inclusive Nature Through the Window group, and the Denbigh in Bloom sensory garden on Ruthin Road, Denbigh. They have also run a number of quizzes at local pubs as a fundraiser.
Secretary, Becky Bowcott, ran a virtual marathon during the pandemic, raising £1,700 which enabled them purchase robotic dogs and cats and Amazon Echo Dots to donate to various care homes and individuals with dementia.
Some of the money raised also went towards some benches that can be seen around town. These have also been painted in bright colours.
They have been successful in fundraising through DVSC Dementia community funding and via the local Co-op shop, who have been hugely supportive.
You can hear more about Dementia Friendly/Aware Denbigh in the following film, when Chair, Dilwyn Jones, explains the work that has gone into the town over the years.
And it's not just Denbigh... read on to hear and see more about what Denbighshire towns and businesses have done to become Dementia Aware.
Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme is the biggest ever initiative to change people’s perceptions of dementia. It aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.
Dementia Friends is about learning more about dementia and the small ways you can help. From telling friends about the Dementia Friends programme to visiting someone you know living with dementia, every action counts.
Across the whole of Denbighshire, an army of volunteer Dementia Friends Champions, and more latterly Dementia Friends Ambassadors, have spread the word and created thousands of Dementia Friends. On the next page you can see just some of them, and hear our aforementioned Ruthin Dementia Inclusive Community Choir singing Thank You For Being a Friend as part of National Thank You Day 2023. This was organised by the Music for Dementia Campaign. Singing legend, Tony Christie, who recently announced he has been diagnosed with dementia, released his version of the song too and everyone across the country got together to sing the song on 2nd July.
Dementia Aware St Asaph is led by Sue Last who cares for her husband John who lives with dementia. Her insight into dementia has meant that there have been a number of projects that have taken place there.
Sue feels strongly that a dementia aware town can be divided into three distinct aspects: people with dementia themselves, carers and the person they care for who has dementia and carers themselves. The steering group has tried to take this into account when looking at activities as quite often, the wellbeing of carers can be forgotten and they need somewhere to go where they can chat to others in a similar position.
Over the years they have run Dementia Friends Sessions including all children at Ysgol Morgan, and the local Brownies group. The Dementia Bus has been a feature (see the separate page all about this). There was a 'Forget Me Not Tea' group in the parish church, and a Carers Coffee Afternoon in the library. They are hoping to look at ways to increase footfall at these (and ensure all those that would benefit from these can hear about it).
They also fundraised for and provided dementia friendly mats to shops, cafes, the library, GP surgeries and the local pharmacy. These follow on from Dementia Friends awareness sessions that explain how the traditional black mats outside shops can seem like a hole to those with cognitive difficulties. The photo shows Lowrie from Jacob's ladder receiving her mat.
Previously, a dementia friendly concert was held as part of the North Wales International Music Festival at the Cathedral. This was a success and it will take place this year too, along with a workshop. Also at the Cathedral, they set up a table at All Things Dementia, which is run by the diocese in the cathedral (see photo).
If you are interested in joining Dementia Aware St Asaph, contact Sue on email@example.com
Lost in art is a project aimed at people in the community with dementia and their carers. Its aim is to explore the role of visual arts in addressing issues that can affect those living with dementia, including social isolation, quality of life and wellbeing. It was developed with the support of the Dementia Services Development Centre at Bangor University. It started as a pilot project at venues in Rhyl and Ruthin and now takes place at Ruthin Craft Centre, Tuesday afternoons between 1 and 3pm.
To find out more contact Sian Fitzgerald, Arts Development Manager: firstname.lastname@example.org or Jo McGregor, Community Arts Project Co-ordinator: email@example.com
Dementia Aware Rhuddlan was set up in 2018 when a group of residents decided they wanted to help their town work towards becoming Dementia Friendly. Over the years they have been regularly seen at events and in 2019 they set up a Singing Group at Rhuddlan Golf Club, and later on a Chair Exercise Group at the Community Centre. Both groups are dementia inclusive, meaning they are open to all and the initial idea behind these particular activities is that exercise and social contact is good for both the body and the brain.
The word rapidly spread and attendees come from outside Rhuddlan as well. Around 28-30 people attend each group on a regular basis.
The groups were set up and run with the help of funding from Town Council Grants, Gwynt y Mor, Comic Relief, Tesco and Masonic Groups.
Carers Trust also runs sessions at the Community Centre where both people living with dementia and their carers can come and chat and take part in activities, both together and in separate groups. It has been a lifeline for carers to be able to relax and chat with people in similar circumstances to themselves.
Dementia Friendly Rhuddlan have a Facebook page, and if you are interested in becoming part of the group, or finding out more about activities in the town, you can contact Mike on firstname.lastname@example.org
Making Sense is a CIO founded by artist, Ticky Lowe and based in Denbigh. It offers a bespoke, multi-sensory and resident-led approach to creativity and reminiscence workshops in care homes, especially valuable for those living with dementia. They also offer events, training, accessible technology and interpretation, working together with care homes, community groups, libraries and art heritage spaces. Together, they combine creativity, making and sharing reminiscence and nature in activities with individuals at different stages on their dementia journeys.
Their Reminiscence Objects collection from 1940-1980 are brought to life, imbued with emotion and expounded with memories, by personal and one on one connections. Sometimes its chatting, laughing together and sharing stories with one other, sometimes its multi-sensory and found in textures, smells and sounds, in the winding of a hand whisk or the scent of a soap.
Making Sense also offer free creative reminiscence packs to care homes and groups with tried and tested activities for residents, and if you'd be interested in finding out more about Making Sense, visit www.makingsensecic.org.uk, or contact them on email@example.com
John Palmer is Secretary of Dementia Aware Llangollen. He has been involved since before the pandemic. The steering group had only just been set up then and sadly folded when people weren't allowed to meet. However, it was soon set up again and the group has around 5 members who meet regularly about once a month.
Before Covid, they had been around local businesses handing out a form asking them if they'd be interested in working together to help make Llangollen dementia friendly, however because of the pandemic, they've started again and managed to receive some funding from the North Wales Police and Community Trust who enabled them to design a form that can be delivered to 1,000 homes, asking whether they're a carer or someone living with dementia and if so, they can contact a number or email. This will enable the group to target the correct people and find out what's really needed in the town.
As well as this, they have shown 'The World Turned Upside Down' at the local cinema, a film that delves into the reality of living with and caring for a person with dementia. The film depicts both a play and the process of creating it, as well as the audiences’ reflections during the play.
Co-created with people affected by dementia, the play explores scenarios at different points of characters’ experiences with dementia, from getting a diagnosis and sharing that with family members, to caring for a loved one living with dementia.
If you live in Llangollen and would like to be involved in the steering group or hear more about their work, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Book of You are an award winning Community Interest Company based in Ruthin. Over the 12 years they've been in existence they've worked with many different client groups, creating personal life story and community story books.
All Book of You staff and volunteers are fully dementia trained and understand the importance of using life story work to engage with those living with dementia, thereby improving wellbeing and strengthening family connections. This year for the first time they put together and ran a training course, funded by DVSC, called The Power of Storytelling for Those Living with Dementia and they also partnered with Making Sense CIC on '6 Objects', a project that built a multimedia book around the memories of residents with dementia at Plas Eleri Nursing Home, generated by just 6 diverse objects. This was funded by the outgoing Chair of Denbighshire County Council, Arwel Roberts and will be available for the public to view very soon on the Book of You website.
This year, with funding from local councils, Book of You also set up a 'Care Home Buddy' Project, recruiting and training volunteers within Denbighshire, Conwy and Pembrokeshire to visit and befriend care home residents for an hour once a week, many of whom have dementia. These residents have been identified as having few or no visitors and it is proving to be a very successful and valuable project and it is hoped that it will expand across the whole of Wales in 2024.
To find out more about the work Book of You does, you can visit their social media pages on Facebook, X (formerly known as Twitter) and Instagram, email them on email@example.com or visit their website www.bookofyou.co.uk
Rhyl is beginning its journey towards becoming more dementia aware with an action group, which has recently agreed to become constituted. The group has been facilitated by DVSC and includes local organisations, businesses and representation from the community.
Several businesses have committed to working towards becoming more dementia friendly, including having attended Dementia Friends Sessions, the Dementia Virtual Tour, displaying signage and completing the checklist.
Three businesses will be installing the special dementia friendly welcome mats and these are on order.
In May the group ran a screening of 'The World Turned Upside Down', facilitated by DVSC and also hosted the Dementia Virtual Tour.
On 14th August, North Wales Police will be providing training to the attendees of Stopwatch about the Herbert Protocol. The Herbert Protocol is a national scheme that encourages carers, family and friends to provide and put together useful information, which can then be used in the event of a vulnerable person going missing. This session has been opened out to include staff who will be working during this year's Air Show at the end of August
They have a facebook page https://www.facebook.com/dementiafriendlyrhyl
The pandemic brought with it not just Covid-19 - a new word we'd all become very familiar with, but also changes to the way we all worked. Suddenly we were unable to mingle face to face so a lot of communities had to 'think outside the box'. Dementia Friends Champions trained to run Dementia Friends sessions via Zoom. Book of You hosted a Virtual Coffee Morning throughout the pandemic as well as switching our training courses and community book sessions to online, and Lost in Art delivered art and activity ideas to people's homes.
Quite a few towns have hosted the Virtual Dementia Tour Bus so residents can get a window into demetia. Here are just some of the quotes from those who've experienced it: “Everyone on the planet needs to experience this!” “You are an active learner… you walk in the shoes of someone with dementia.” “There is an immediate and lasting change of perception.”
To find out more, visit: https://www.training2care.com/virtual-dementia-tour.htm
There are a number of dementia related training courses available throughout each year both face to face and online, including those run by TIDE (Together In Dementia Everyday - mainly for carers), Book of You (including our recent Power of Storytelling course), as well as courses about Engaging in Everyday Situations, Practical Support Around the Time of Diagnosis, and Getting What You're Entitled To.
DVSC also run a regular Dementia Aware Denbighshire meeting via Zoom that is open to everyone and they also provide Dementia Aware Community Grants, that can fund a diverse range of project helping those with dementia, and their loved ones, across the county.
More details on many of these courses, groups and funding can be found on DVSC's website https://www.dvsc.co.uk/
It is always good to hear back from the most important people - and that is those with dementia themselves, their carers and also professionals who work with them. Here below is some of the feedback received by DVSC over the years:
"Working with DVSC has worked wonders for me, gave me confidence to talk to people and developed new skills I didn’t think I had" (a person living with dementia)
"I have made lots of amazing connections" (a carer)
‘The Dementia Aware Denbighshire programme has been hugely influential in keeping Denbighshire residents and those who work in the county, aware of the wide range of services and initiatives locally and nationally that can help people to live well with dementia" (a dementia professional)
"(It) provides a great setting for networking and learning about what is available locally. Also show cases good practices by communities providing ideas to replicate" (a dementia professional)
"You’ve given me so much inspiration" (a professional following a Dementia Aware Denbighshire networking event)
"I will reach out to the different organisations to see how we can collaborate and work together on events and activities" (a dementia professional following a Dementia Aware Denbighshire networking event)
"I enjoyed working on the session because in doing so, it gave me a positive outlook on my life. My mood is happier and I look forward to sharing my book" (person living with dementia following supported life story work)
Do you have something you would like to tell us about your experience with Dementia Aware Denbighshire? If so, contact Becky at firstname.lastname@example.org. We'd love to hear from you!
In 2023, it became clear that Alzheimer’s Society were withdrawing their support from the Dementia Friendly Communities recognition scheme. As a support for the towns in Denbighshire that value this recognition, and have already achieved it or are working towards it, DVSC is now working with the Regional Partnership Board and other partners across North Wales, to put in place our own regional recognition scheme, to be launched at the beginning of 2024.