Profile: Town of Okotoks

Janette Messer, Community Programs and Events Manager
Co-chair of the Okotoks Coordinating Committee

The Town of Okotoks was involved with the DFC Project right from the beginning. We worked closely with The Brenda Strafford Foundation project team to ensure there was alignment with the current services and programs that were being offered.

An initial conversation between BSF, myself, and the Town of Okotoks Community Wellness Manager took place early in the project. We discussed the best strategy for optimal uptake in the community, agreeing that creating a Coordinating Committee to oversee the project would be a critical step in the project plan. Once the Coordinating Committee was established, I agreed to co-chair as I was involved in engaging the community partners, and have a finger on the pulse of the community.

The project has been very successful. Of course, there were bumps along the way and many lessons learned. The partnership has increased community capacity and increased the awareness and understanding of dementia. Being able to provide space and personnel to assist with the Memory and Aging Program, connecting the program coordinator with Town staff to orchestrate the launch event (Picnic at the Piano), and facilitating connection to Town staff for attendance at the training session for First Responders and all Town staff are all pieces of the project that helped to better support the community as a whole.

In terms of sustainability, three Town staff members (from the recreation centre, town facility staff, and first responder departments) were trained in a ‘train the trainer’ approach to continue offering training to new staff members beyond the end of the pilot project.

The DFC Project in Okotoks has encompassed many areas including awareness, education, and caregiver support.

Town of Okotoks partnership highlights include:

  • Town employees actively participating on the DFC Okotoks Coalition (Coordinating Committee)
  • Dementia Awareness training opportunities for Town staff and first responders
  • Providing facilities/venues for events such as the Memory and Aging Program, ‘Dementia Talks’ Library Speaker Series, Town Training sessions and more
  • Partnering to offer the Memory and Aging Program and Brain in Motion study in response to community’s desire to focus on risk reduction
  • Introducing a “Move and Groove Social Café” providing a new outlet for the community to connect with one another, increasing social interactions and physical activity
  • Active involvement and endorsement by Mayor Bill Robertson

"Building a dementia-friendly community takes collaboration, investment and time. It involves health services, social services, law enforcement, local government, charities and volunteer groups. It also requires individuals listening, showing respect and offering a helping hand. There is still a ways to go, but successes such as training front line workers to recognize clients with dementia that can make a difference. Making all community members feel valued is one of our Council’s strategic priorities and we greatly appreciate the opportunity to participate in this important project.”

 ~ Mayor Bill Robertson, Town of Okotoks