A three-year project – involving the University of Stirling and local partners – to boost communities for people living with dementia has received major backing from the Life Changes Trust.
The £225,000 grant will fund a range of initiatives to empower people with dementia to create collaborative neighbourhood communities which help them remain socially, physically, culturally and politically active. The wide ranging partnership includes Artlink Central, Stirling Council and NHS Forth Valley and follows research findings from the University which indicated that neighbourhoods play a crucial role in supporting people with dementia to remain active and independent.
Dr Richard Ward, Senior Lecturer in Dementia Studies at the University of Stirling, said: “Research shows that the neighbourhood is particularly significant to people with dementia and their carers because, following diagnosis, they spend a growing amount of time in the local environment.
“The funding for this project will allow us to show how place attachment, local connections and a shared sense of belonging can support the wellbeing, health and citizenship of people living with dementia in the local community.
“We’re delighted to begin rolling this out in the Forth Valley region and are grateful to the Life Changes Trust and our other partners for their continued support.”
The project will look at online accessibility for people with dementia and assess whether the local environment is dementia-friendly.
People with dementia will lead on developing their communities and, with the project’s support, make decisions about which activities to pursue, based on what works for them.
Anna Buchanan, Director of the Life Changes Trust dementia programme said: “Ensuring that people with dementia and their families remain included in their communities, and in society more generally, should be the new 'norm'. People should not become isolated and lonely because they have been diagnosed with dementia, and yet this is often the case. We are delighted to fund this work and hope that in time it will inspire many other communities to become dementia inclusive.”
Councillor Scott Farmer, Leader of Stirling Council and Convener of the Council's Social Care and Health Committee said: "This is a welcome and significant development which will build on our ambitions for Stirling as a Dementia Friendly City. We are working closely with the University of Stirling and other third sector partners to make this a place where people with dementia are able to live sustainable, independent lives. This funding will enable people to be better supported in their own communities and will make a big difference to those living with dementia in our area.”
Artlink Central will also look to develop arts activities as part of the project and researchers will work with the Macrobert Arts Centre to host a Neighbourhood Festival.
Kevin Harrison, CEO of Artlink Central said “Artlink Central are delighted to be one of many partners who will be supporting these neighbourhood collaborations between people living with dementia, carers, and local organisations, with support from the Life Changes Trust, for dementia friendly communities in Stirling and Forth Valley.
“A neighbourhood based approach will challenge and inspire communities to work more closely and creatively with people living with dementia to support independence, inclusion and access. The programme will design, create and test innovative ideas led by participants’ lived experience of dementia in relation to the places that matter most to us all in our daily lives.”
Professor Judith Phillips, Deputy Principal (Research) at the University added: “This is a unique opportunity to take forward an evidence-based approach to dementia-friendly community development and for the University to contribute the expertise and knowledge that we have built over the years on dementia, care, design and the environment.
“Stirling has a long-standing commitment to improve the lives of people with dementia and this project, in joining with a host of local organisations and community groups, will enable us to demonstrate and extend our investment in this field.”
In the first two years, the project will be piloted in neighbourhoods in Stirling North, before being extended across the Forth Valley region in the third year.