A Message from The Brenda Strafford Foundation
The Brenda Strafford Foundation is proud to present ‘A Guide for Creating Dementia Friendly Communities in Alberta.’
This guide is the culmination of a two-and-a-half year pilot project led by BSF in collaboration with our supportive provincial funding partners and passionate local community partners.
Driven by our philosophy, ‘The preservation of dignity and the pursuit of happiness,’ The Foundation has established a reputation as a leader in research and innovation in seniors care for more than 40 years. As a charitable organization, our strategic priorities include using our expertise and resources to better meet changing community needs.
We know that the population is aging. And we also know that people want to stay living in their homes as they age.
Dementia Friendly Communities are about mobilizing community resources and building the community capacity to do that… To support individuals living with dementia to ‘age in place,’ to remain living in their homes, and stay active and well in their communities.
Together, we must find innovative and community-focused solutions to ensure that we meet the needs of individuals living with dementia and their caregivers. Everyone has a role in helping find these solutions!
It is essential for advocacy, action and collaboration to happen at all levels – locally, nationally and internationally.
On the international stage, the World Health Organization (WHO) recognizes dementia as a public health and social care priority. In 2017, WHO launched the ‘Global Action Plan on the Public Health Response to Dementia 2017-2025.’
At the national level, earlier this year (in June 2019) the Public Health Agency of Canada released ‘A Dementia Strategy for Canada: Together We Aspire.’ This federal strategy identifies common principles and national objectives to help guide action in Canada towards a future in which all people living with dementia and caregivers are valued and supported, quality of life is optimized, and dementia is prevented, well understood, and effectively treated.
Provincially, in 2018 the Government of Alberta released the ‘Alberta Dementia Strategy and Action Plan’ that outlines goals and steps to improve dementia diagnosis and care, while enhancing supports for Albertans living with dementia and the families, caregivers, and communities who support them.
And locally, in our own communities where The Brenda Strafford Foundation operates, we have experienced first-hand the ground swell of support from community members who are ready to take action to ensure that their families, friends and neighbours impacted by dementia are supported to maintain a high quality of life, at home, in their local communities.
We have been inspired by the many partners stepping forward to be part of the change in our pilot communities.
Education and training opportunities have been offered to help first responders, local businesses and organizations better understand, recognize and respond to signs of dementia to better support the needs of those they serve. Schools are exploring ways to educate students throughout the curriculum and create intergenerational opportunities to engage with seniors in the community. Faith centres, community associations, and many other non-profit and public service organizations are ensuring supports and resources are mobilized and accessible in the community.
Through our commitment to generating and sharing knowledge, BSF has documented our journey and lessons learned along the way to create this guide as a locally sensitive, evidence-based approach for the development of Dementia Friendly Communities throughout the province.
The project would not have been possible without the support and advice of our provincial funding partners: the Government of Alberta (Seniors and Housing); Alberta Health Services; and Alberta Innovates. And it would not be possible or sustainable without the foundation of strong partnerships within the communities where we operate. The key to the pilot project’s success, as well scalability throughout the province and long term sustainability, lies in the engagement of many partners working together on various levels.
The Brenda Strafford Foundation is grateful for the opportunity to lead this exciting and impactful initiative that will benefit so many people in so many communities. Together, we are leading the way toward a dementia-friendly future in a dementia-friendly Alberta.