Profile: Family Caregiver

Bryan Gilks, Family Caregiver and Co-chair of the Calgary Westhills Coordinating Committee

My mother attends an Adult Day Program at BSF’s Bow View Manor. I was approached by the Program Director to attend a town hall meeting for the Dementia Friendly Communities project. After that presentation, I was interested enough to attend the committee formation meeting. It was at this point I realized that my personal and professional skillset would make a significant contribution to the project.

Next came the journey as the Coordinating Committee Co-chair for the Westhills pilot community project. It started by working with a committed team of mostly non-profit agencies, community volunteers and talented staff at The Brenda Strafford Foundation. The committee and project coordinator established an overall vision, a workable timeline and possible strategies required to accomplish the tasks. As with any evolving project, there was time taken to evaluate what things were working, what items needed to be re-assessed and which areas would provide the best opportunities for increased community involvement. It was evident that flexible and alternative ways to engage individuals and groups would be needed.

As the Westhills project proceeded major community champions emerged, and as as result of community engagement and collaboration, this project has now touched the lives of countless individuals. Not only of those living with dementia and their caregivers, but also businesses and their employees, students, first responders, volunteers and many other citizens within the community... and beyond.

“The commitment and networking of caregivers, community residents, health care representatives, educators, faith and business leaders, and various organizations who serve the community, alongside representatives from various levels of government has been the foundation of this project’s success.  As co-chair, I have been blessed to work with so many people who believed that individuals living with dementia have the right to age with dignity in their homes and communities. Now it’s time for leadership in other communities to respond to this challenge.”

Bryan Gilks