Organisations and staff facilitating social support groups for seniors will benefit from a new ‘dementia-friendly checklist’ produced by a collaborative that involved an aged care provider, consumer group and researchers.

The resource aims to ensure that social support programs reduce the effects of dementia and increase opportunities for people living with dementia to meaningfully participate. The creators said it can be used by any social support program in any setting.

The Dementia-friendly social support – checklist was developed through a partnership between Uniting AgeWell and Barwon South West Department of Health and Human Services, with input from Alzheimer’s Australia Victoria, the Dementia Training Study Centre at the University of Wollongong, several regional health departments, local government services, rural hospitals and the Gunditjmara Aboriginal Co-op.

Teresa Roberts, team leader at Western Region Uniting AgeWell, who managed the project, told Australian Ageing Agenda that the resource aimed to ensure people with dementia had the opportunity to enjoy their time in social support groups and not suffer from unnecessary stresses that could be relieved.

Ms Roberts said:

“These practical tools assist you to create a non-stressing environment. This is such a relief not only for the person with dementia but also for their carer who can be given a little time away from their caring responsibility.”

She said that while the resource was targeted specifically for social support groups , it also provided useful information about people with dementia and the environments where they feel most at ease, which could be adapted by community care organisations and day therapy centres.

The checklist was developed by comparing a wide range of best practices, not only programming but also the social and physical environments of social support programs, Ms Roberts said.

The resource assists social support groups to identify areas for improvement that would support clients with dementia, their carers and staff and increases opportunities for meaningful participation.

“We are making it freely available to encourage its use by many groups in many environments. It is a very practical tool so we think it will be widely taken up,” Ms Roberts said.

Click here to access the toolkit

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