Category Archives: Human rights

World Alzheimers Report 2020: Design, Dignity, Dementia: Dementia-related design and the built environment

On day 23 of World Alzheimer’s Month/Dementia Awareness Month #DAM2020 we are pleased to share the Alzheimer’s Disease International World Alzheimer Report launched yesterday on World Alzheimer’s Day: Design, Dignity, Dementia: Dementia-related design and the built environment. Our ¬†daily series is varied and we hope, relevant, and this topic is critical to the future of dementia care.

Increased awareness had been desperately needed of the potential of good design to improve equal access for people with dementia, and there has been increasing urgent global demand by people living with dementia to see this translated into practice.

The two volumes of the 2020 World Alzheimers Report have brought together the principles and practice, and will be an important resource now and into the future.

The webinar hosted by ADI was extremely well attended, with more than 1100 who registered, and over 600 people from 77 countries who logged in and attended the live event.

An important theme running through the webinar was around dignity – or the lack of dignity accorded to people living with dementia by certain design methods. Panelist Kevin Charras PhD showed a slide of different examples of this, stating: ‚ÄúIt‚Äôs quite appalling when design relies on stigma and stereotypes of dementia. It turns into furniture that is vintage, colours and contrasts that are exaggerated, and signage that is triple in size, and streets inside buildings, which becomes very confusing.‚ÄĚ

Watch the recording of the webinar here:

World Alzheimer Report 2020_Vol1

World Alzheimer Report 2020_Vol2

Kate Swaffer presented at the webinar, and has provided her slides here and speech notes below.

Disability Rights, Enabling Design and Dementia

Kate Swaffer, ADI Webinar, 21 September 2020

Slide 1 ‚Äď Disability Rights, Enabling Design and Dementia

Thank you to Paola and ADI for launching such a critical report, and congratulations to the report co leads Richard, John and Kirsty for your a very impressive report.

It is very comprehensive, and I’m sure it will become an influential report into the future. Thanks also to Richard for the opportunity to contribute to it.

Slide 2 – Reframing Dementia as a disAbility

The World Health Organisation (WHO) clearly states that dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide and through campaigning at the 2016 WHO Mental Health Forum in Geneva, cognitive disabilities were added as a fourth category under the mental health umbrella. Now that dementia is being described in UN documents as a cognitive disability, we are reminded that people with dementia are fully recognised by the UN as rights bearers under the CRPD treaty.‚ÄĚ

In an article I co-authored with Prof. Richard Fleming, Dr Linda Steele and others, we quoted Susan Cahill, who noted, the CRPD ‚Äėallows for a new and exciting dialogue to emerge, where the framing of dementia is no longer characterized by stigma, fear and exclusion, but rather, where the individual with dementia is viewed as a legitimate part of mainstream society‚Äô.

Once we accept that ‚Äėdementia is a major cause of disability‚Äô we understand it is a critical reason why it is so important the built environment for people with dementia is accessible, in the same way we provide wheelchair access.

With the rise of a disability rights movement for disabilities caused by any type of dementia, predominantly being led by people with dementia globally, we have come to understand the problem is not with the person with dementia, but about the environment being made accessible.

This of course, includes the physical and built environments.

Disability arises out of the interaction between a person with a health condition, and the environment in which they live and work.  A health condition causing disability can include a stroke or a diagnosis of dementia, a long-term health condition such as mental illness, or through losing a limb or another physical function due to an accident.

As this slide shows, we have icons that equate to action, including in most countries, legislation, for most of the more visible disAbilities ‚Äď it is now time for the invisible disabilities such as sensory or communication disabilities, to be included in building design, and in the way organisations operate.

What use is my wheelchair, if there is no ramp or lift to allow me access?

Similarly, what use is it me going to the bank or supermarket, if the staff can’t communicate with me?

Not to provide equitable access, including through the built environment for everyone is like asking someone without legs to climb a flight of stairs.

Slide 3 – Human and Legal Rights

Even though people with dementia still retain the same rights as anyone else in society, including human rights and disability rights, there has been little change in the realisation of these rights.

A human rights-based approach is about making people aware of their rights, whilst increasing the accountability of individuals and institutions who are responsible for respecting, protecting and fulfilling rights.

The WHO Global Dementia Action Plan for a Public Health Response to Dementia identifies human rights (and specifically the CRPD) as one of three ‚Äėcross-cutting principles‚Äô.

The principles included in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and its Optional Protocol (CRPD) are clear; it is up to us to provide people with any kind of disabilities with the options to make those choices.

We cannot live with dignity, if we are not provided with access to live with dignity and respect.

We cannot participate equally, if we are not provided with the access to do so.

All of these principles are underpinned by the built environment, and our responsibility to ensure access to it, as we do with other disabilities.

The use of these principles allows a design to respond in different ways to people’s needs, preferences, lifestyles, cultural and socio-economic backgrounds, as well as the local climate and geography.

No longer can we pick and choose what rights we wish to uphold, or only focus on e.g. rights to dignity or health, which when interpreted do not disrupt the current medicalised approach to dementia;

Disability rights and disability access matters to me; in fact I cannot maintain my independence without it.

I hope they also matter to you.

People with physical disabilities have made major progress as substantial, influential members of society.

Yet we are still being left behind, not only in terms of health and social care, but in terms of recognition and the management of dementia as a condition causing disability and therefore of legislated disability support including enabling and accessible built environments and communities.

What this means is that people with cognitive disabilities caused by dementia are still being denied the most basic access to live independently in their communities.

Slide 4 – The built environment and disability

The environment’s influence in creating disability or in increasing it has been well established and is seen as integral to the definition of disability and is integral to the definition of disability. When the built environment changes, then the experience of someone living with a disability will also change.

The paradigm change introduced many decades ago by the disability rights movement has made modifying the built environment for accessibility commonplace, and in most countries, legislated. We are all so familiar with accommodations for physical disabilities that it is rarely an issue, as accessible bathrooms, guide-dogs, assistive listening systems, or wheelchair ramps are available almost everywhere.

As the image of this wheelchair shows us, even wheelchairs are being made much more accessible than when they were first in use. This is how we must view the built environment too, as we need equitable access for all.  We know that most people who have dementia or who are older and require assistance with our daily activities, would prefer to continue to live in their own communities and stay in their homes, and society has a responsibility to ensure equal access as all of its citizens.

Slide 5 ‚Äď Thank you

We must all work towards ensuring the built environment for people with dementia is accessible.

  • We don‚Äôt need more reports or more rhetoric.
  • What we really need now is ACTION.

Thank you.

Kate Swaffer, MSc, BPsych, BA, Retired nurse
Chair, CEO and co-founder, Dementia Alliance International
Board member, Alzheimer’s Disease International

Since you’re here…

… we’re asking readers like you to support our members, by donating to our organizaton.

 

With more than 50 million people living with dementia, and the Coronavisus pandemic causing everyone to operate in a virtual world,  our work has never been more important.

Every contribution, however big or small, is so valuable to our work of supporting people diagnosed with any type of dementia to live more positively, and with a greater sense of hope.  Thank  you.

Help more people with dementia to have a voice, by  supporting DAI.

Emily Tan Tan Ong shares why she is glad she found DAI

On day 8 of the #DAI Dementia Awareness Month series of blogs or vlogs on why members are glad they found DAI, and  why DAI is Life Changing, Emily (Tan Tan) Ong shares with us why she is glad she found DAI.

Emily also shares how DAI has so positively impacted her self avocacy and courage, and her advocacy for others also living with dementia in Singapore and beyond. #DAM2020

Thank you Emily. We are glad you joined DAI.

 

Reminder: the Monday Science Podcast Dementia Series is Fundraising for DAI

#DAIisLifeChanging

Webinar: Human Rights as a Practice Model in Residential Aged Care

We invite you to join us for our September 2020 “Meeting Of The Minds” Webinar,¬† Human Rights as a Practice Model in Residential Aged Care, presented by Daniella Greenwood.

  • Wednesday, September 23, 2020 (USA/CA/UK/EU)
  • Thursday, September 24, 2020 (AU/NZ/Asia)
  • Please note: this is one event, set in a number of different time zones.

Human Rights in residential aged care have never been so important!  At this time of the Coronavirus pandemic, when lockdowns and other restrictions have been enforced on families and residents, the many breaches of human rights these people already face have increased.  On top of that, the number of deaths in aged care due to this pandemic is truly tragic. Please do join us for this inspiring speaker, and an innovative and new way of supporting people living in residential aged care (nursing homes).

Register here…

Wednesday, September 23, 2020 (USA/CA/UK/EU):    

  • 2:00 pm¬† Pacific
  • 3:00 pm¬† ¬†Mountain
  • 4:00 pm¬† ¬†Central
  • 5:00 pm¬† ¬†Eastern
  • 10:00 pm¬† London/Glasgow/Dublin UK
  • 11:00 pm¬† Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, EU

Thursday, September 24, 2020 ( AU/NZ/ASIA):

  • 5:00 am¬† Perth, AU/Taipei/Singapore
  • 6:30 am¬† ¬†Adelaide, AU
  • 7:00 am¬† ¬†Sydney/Melbourne/Canberra/Tasmania/Brisbane, AU
  • 9:00 am¬† ¬†Auckland, NZ

The Webinar runs for up to 1.5 hours.

Check your time if not listed above with this link.
Donate to DAI or become an Associate or Strategic Partner.
Volunteer for DAI: [email protected]

Register here…

YOUR DONATIONS SUPPORT DAI IN MANY WAYS:

  • $US 5.00 covers the average cost of one of our monthly bank fees
  • $US 200.00 covers the cost of our monthly Zoom subscription fee
  • $US 120.00 covers the average monthly cost of the MailChimp subscription
  • $US 300.00 covers the current cost of 3 months of website management fees

PLEASE DONATE TO DAI OR BECOME AN ASSOCIATE OR PARTNER; WITHOUT YOUR SUPPORT, DAI COULD NOT PROVIDE THE SERVICES WE PROVIDE CURRENTLY FOR MEMBERS, THEIR FAMILIES & THE GLOBAL COMMUNITY.

Support people with dementia:

THANK YOU

**************************************************************************

You can view videos of previous DAI “A Meeting Of The Minds” Webinars on the¬†on the DAI YouTube Channel

Please note: Whilst we usually publish the recording of the event on YouTube afterwards, it does not include the Q & A sessions, and occasionally, we do not publicly publish recordings of your online Webinars at all, so if you don’t register to attend, you may miss seeing our events.

Human Rights and the Confinement of People Living with Dementia in Care Homes

Todays blog is an important Human Rights Law Journal article, Human Rights and the Confinement of People Living with Dementia in Care Homes published on 18 June 2020.

By Linda Steele, Ray Carr, Kate Swaffer, Lyn Phillipson, and Richard Fleming.

Abstract: This paper responds to growing concerns in human rights practice and scholarship about the confinement of people living with dementia in care homes. Moving beyond the existing focus in human rights scholarship on the role of restrictive practices in confinement, the paper broadens and nuances our understanding of confinement by exploring the daily facilitators of confinement in the lives of people with dementia. The paper draws on data from focus groups and interviews with people living with dementia, care partners, aged care workers, and lawyers and advocates about Australian care homes. It argues that microlevel interrelated and compounding factors contribute to human rights abuses of people living with dementia related to limits on freedom of movement and community access of people living with dementia, at times irrespective of the use of restrictive practices. These factors include immobilization and neglect of residents, limited and segregated recreational activities, concerns about duty of care and liability, apprehension of community exclusion, and pathologization and subversion of resistance. It is necessary to challenge the organizational, cultural, economic, and social dynamics that shape day-to-day, microlevel, routine, and compounding factors that remove the agency of people living with dementia and in turn facilitate entrenched and systematic human rights breaches in care homes.

You can download the full article here…

This article is one of three, as part of a research project many members of DAI were involved in as participants of the research, and at the Summit. The project ‚ÄėSafe and Just Futures of People Living with Dementia in Residential Aged Care‚Äô aimed to explore:

  • current barriers to liberty and¬†community access for people living¬†with dementia in RACFs; and
  • the possibilities and challenges of¬†utilising a human rights framework¬†to transform the living and support¬†arrangements of people living with¬†dementia in RACFs.

The first published article, Questioning Segregation of People Living with Dementia in Australia: An International Human Rights Approach to Care Homes, was published last year, and the anthology and project report was published earlier this year, also available to download here.

#HumanRights4All…

Supporting people with dementia through COVID-19

This DAI infographic provides an easy reference to support for people with dementia globally.

During the current COVID-19 pandemic, members of DAI and almost all others are rightfully extremely worried about the impact on their day to day lives of this outbreak, including being able to shop in their communities for the most basic of supplies.

In most countries cinemas, almost all essential services such as restaurants, conference venues, hairdressers, beauty therapists and nail salons have been ordered to close. Physical distancing measures are in place (commonly referred to as social distancing), In some countries, no more than two people can meet in any one group, and they must be 1.5 metres apart.

DAI is providing additional support to DAI members at this difficult time by hosting a number of extra support groups, reported on recently.

If you have demenetia, or know someone who does, please refer them to DAI, or to their local or national Alzheimer’s organisation, as many are also now providing online support.

These are extraordinary and extremely stressful and upsetting times for most people, perhaps especially older persons and marginalised groups such as people with dementia, and the information  below may be of interest.

It is a challenging time for everyone, and enhances why access to clear, accurate, and up-to-date information is essential.

Alzheimer’ Disease International (ADI)

ADI has recently published a¬†position¬†paper on COVID-19 with members of their Medical and Scientific Panel, which as their strategic partner,¬†our Chair Kate Swaffer was asked to contribute as an author, and provide a quote. The global impact of¬†COVID-19¬†is unprecedented, particularly on vulnerable groups such as people living with¬†dementia¬†and their families and caregivers.¬†We hope that by sharing such information, we can¬†assist persons and families in making informed decisions about how, when and where to seek help at this difficult time. You can read the full article here…

Within the article, several important topics are addressed:

  • Is¬†COVID19¬†different for people with¬†dementia?
  • Different countries’ guidance on¬†how and when to seek further treatment
  • Difficult decisions around hospital admission and triage
  • Other information on¬†COVID¬†prevention and treatment and additional challenges to consider for people living withdementia
The World Health Organisaton (WHO):

The WHO provides daily updates and many other resources Рhttps://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 and including a very recently released publication for children Рhttps://www.who.int/news-room/detail/09-04-2020-children-s-story-book-released-to-help-children-and-young-people-cope-with-covid-19

The following is a précis of recently received information from the WHO Working Group webinar on COVID-19 and Non Communicable Diseases (NCDs) webinar:

The United Nations three strategic priorities:
  1. Contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic and decrease morbidity and mortality (WHO SPRP/2)
  2. Decrease the deterioration of human assets and rights, social cohesion and livelihoods
  3. Protect, assistant and advocate for refugees, internally displaced people, migrants and host communities particularly vulnerable to the pandemic.
The WHOs three strategic priorities:
  1. Rapidly establishing international coordination and operational support
  2. Scaling up country readiness and response operations
  3. Accelerating priority research and innovation.

Links between COVID-19 and other Non-Communicable Diseases What we know so far:

  • People of all ages can be infected by COVID-19.
  • The risk of becoming severely ill with the virus appears to increase for people who are 60+.
  • People living with NCDs also appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus, in particular people living with:
  • Cardiovascular disease (e.g. hypertension, persons who have had, or are at risk for, a heart attack or stroke)
  • Chronic respiratory disease (e.g. COPD)
  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Smokers are likely to be more vulnerable to COVID-19

The International Disability Alliance (IDA) is providing many updates to the disability community, as well as hosting webinars and live Facebook chats. DAI has regular opportunities through the IDA to contribute to policy and publications about disability to ensure people with dementia are included.

Many other orgnaisations are hosting webinars and live Facebook chats; listing them here is difficult as there are simpy too many, and new opportunitiues from different organisations and individuals are emerign every day.

Please contact us if we can assist in any way.

What we can’t do alone, we can do together.

Human Rights in Residential Aged Care

Image source: Devon Bunce. Procuded as part of the Summit: Human Rights for People Living with Dementia

In this time of COVID-19, when everyone is being asked to keep a distance from each other, and to remain isolated, some groups in our community who already experience social isolation and confinement. This especially includes older people, and those living in nursing homes (residential aged care), as those providing care being encouraged to become more risk averse, benevolent and paternalistic in their approaches to ‘care’.

Different countries seem to have approached the safety and welfare of vulnerable groups in varying ways. For example. in the UK, we have heard anecdotal evidence from colleagues and members that doctors are prioritising the health – and lives – of younger people over older people, and we have heard of many deaths of older people in the UK because of this inhumane approach. In Australia, care providers were advised the following: “We got a sector email yesterday to providers to say that keeping disabled ppl locked up wasn’t environmental restraint if it was for ‚Äėtherapeutic‚Äô purposes and on medical advice. “

In part due to these types of responses to the Coronavirus pandemic, DAI Chair, Kate Swaffer felt it timely to report on the current outcomes of a research project she was involved in at the University of Technology Sydney and the University of Wollongong.

The project is called ‚ÄėSafe and Just Futures of People Living with Dementia in Residential Aged Care‚Äô.

The aims of the project were to explore:

  • current barriers to liberty and¬†community access for people living¬†with dementia in RACFs; and
  • the possibilities and challenges of¬†utilising a human rights framework¬†to transform the living and support¬†arrangements of people living with¬†dementia in RACFs.

The three project outcomes of the project so far include a published article (open access online), an anthology and the project report, as attached below.

Journal Article* –¬†Questioning Segregation of People Living with¬†Dementia in Australia: An International Human¬†Rights Approach to Care Homes (2019)
Authors: Linda Steele, Kate Swaffer, Lyn Phillipson and Richard Fleming

Anthology –¬†Human Rights for¬†People Living with Dementia:¬†An Australian Anthology (2020)
Edited by Linda Steele, Kate Swaffer, Lyn Phillipson and Richard Fleming

Project Report –¬†Safe and Just Futures¬†for People Living with Dementia¬†in Residential Aged Care (2020)

Safe and Just Futures was funded by a Dementia Australia Research Foundation Victoria Project Grant, with additional funding support from Law Health Justice Research Centre, University of Technology Sydney.

The research team was led by Dr Linda Steele (UTS), with associate investigators: Kate Swaffer (DAI, UOW and UniSA), A/Prof Lyn Phillipson (UOW), Professor Richard Fleming (UOW), and , and research assistant Ray Carr (UTS).

The research team thank the presenters at the Summit who enriched what was learnt through the data. The project would not have been possible without all of their informed input and enthusiasm. They also thank the advisory group, including:

  • Dennis Frost
  • Tamar Krebs (Group Homes Australia)
  • Lynda Henderson
  • Elaine Pearson (Human Rights Watch)
  • Bobby Redman
  • Dubhglas Taylor
  • Eileen Taylor
  • Karen Williams (ADA).

*Reference in Chicago Style:
Steele, Linda; Swaffer, Kate; Phillipson, Lyn; Fleming, Richard. 2019. “Questioning Segregation of People Living with Dementia in Australia: An International Human Rights Approach to Care Homes.” Laws 8, no. 3: 18.

Happy New Year & Happy 6th Birthday DAI lo

Welcome to 2020, and Happy 6th Birthday, and congratulations to everyone at Dementia Alliance International (DAI) for such a successful 2019.

Today we share some of our achievements for 2019, which include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Celebrating our 5th birthday on this day last year! Special thanks to Graeme Atkins for his delightful song
  • Our continued strategic partnership with Alzheimer’s Disease International; we thank them for their continued sponsorship and support
  • Our first strategic partnership with a national advocacy organisation; thank you Dementia Australia for your support in 2019, and your committment to continued sponsorship and support of DAI into 2020 and beyond
  • Representation at the World Health Assembly in May, the Rehabilitation 2030 meetings, and the Mental health Forum in October
  • The first DAI Side Event “Dementia: the leading cause of disability” was held at the Conference Of State Parties (COSP) on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD); this was the first time a Side Event dedicated to dmentia has ever been held at the COSP in New York
  • Collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Society UK and the 3 Nations Dementia Working Group on a Directory of Resources on advocacy, and a short video: The Many Voices of Dementia, released in July
  • DAI held its first Capacity Building Workshop in Las Angeles in July
  • DAI was proud to become a Champion Organisation partner with StepUp 4 Dementia Research in Australia; supporting research is imperative for treatments, as well as improving care and reducing risk of dementia, If you live in Australia, please sign up.
  • Dr Jennifer Bute (DAI member) continues to support the ADI Alzheimer’s University, and other members in the UK also provide support to ADI, including Howard Gordon presenting on the panel, Let’s Talk about Dementia Research: Maintaining hope when trials end
  • A second volunteer, Tamara Claunch from Houston Texas joined  long time volunteer Sarah Yeates; thanks to them both. They have also agreed to take on more formal roles at DAI, to support our board and leadership (to be anounced next week)
  • Membership is increasing steadily
  • Increases to additional new free members services, including, for example two Living Alone Social peer to peer support groups
  • Updates to many of our Governance documents and By Laws, soon to be announced and shared
  • It took almost six years, but we now have a committed group of professionals who have agreed to be members of our Professional Advisory Committee, soon to be announced.
  • We introduced the new Board Of Directors for 2020 at the Annual General Meeting in November(to be announced in detail next week), congratulate them all, and thank them for their willingness to serve on the BOD
  • The WHO launched their new Quality Rights initiative and Toolkit. DAI members Professor Peter Mittler and Kate Swaffer both contributed significantly to this on behalf of DAI
  • Many DAI members have also worked with the WHO on their Dementia Friendly Initiatives work, which is still in draft stage and is to be released this year
  • Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar, the Special Rapporteur on the rights of person with disabilities launched a report on the rights of older persons with disabilities at the 74th session of the General Assembly in October 2019. The report identifies and addresses specific human rights concerns faced by both people with disabilities who are ageing and older persons who acquire a disability. DAI was invited to review the draft, and able to ensure dementia was included
  • We have two formal publication in progress, finally, to be released sometime in 2020
  • Finally, please find the time to complete the DAI Survey on Advocacy and involvement in Dementia Research and Policy; Responses are needed by January 15, 2020. Thank you.  

Of course, there have been many other achievements by individual DAI members, working locally, nationally or globally, as always, far too many to list. However, DAI knows that advocacy takes a physical and cognitive (and sometmes emotional) toll on every person with dementia, and their care partner and family.

DAI thanks you all for your hard work.

Universal Health Coverage Day 2019

December 12  is  International Universal Health Coverage Day, a day where  we must remind governments AND health care providers that everyone has a right to health.

As background on the history of this day, in 2014, the Universal Health Coverage Coalition started to celebrate 12 December as Universal Health Coverage (UHC) Day,  commemorating the date on which the UN General Assembly officially recognised the importance of UHC. It is a United Nations-designated day, which was officially resolved on 12 December 2017.

Since then, the day has become the annual rallying point for the growing global movement for #Health4All.

Every person‚ÄĒno matter who they are, what health condition they have, or where they live, should be able to get the quality health coverage and services they need without facing financial hardship.

DAI knows that most people with dementia do not receive full health coverage, nor adequate post diagnostic support to live with dementia; instead, they are too often only advised to go home and prepare to die.  And for those people with dementia and their families who choose a different pathway, the cost is often crippling.

Three months after the historic high-level meeting the the United Nations General Assembly on universal health coverage (held on 23 September 2019),  we understand that dementia was not specifically included in discussions, in spite of the many years of global advocacy by DAI and ADI.

This is not a positive outcome for the more than 50 million people currently livign with dementia!

This high-level meeting, held under the theme ‚ÄúUniversal Health Coverage: Moving Together to Build a Healthier World,‚ÄĚ aimed to accelerate progress toward universal health coverage (UHC), including financial risk protection, access to quality essential health-care services and access to safe, effective, quality and affordable essential medicines and vaccines for all.

Yet, we know that people with dementia are still being denied access to health care, all over the world. 

Let’s all rally together to ensure everyone, including people with dementia are not left behind in the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals Agenda!¬†

 

Human Rights Day

On this day on which we celebrate Human Rights Day in 2019, DAI and ADI wish to invite you to join us for a webinar in 2020. The United Nations¬†celebrates ‚Äėtremendous activism‚Äô of the world‚Äôs young people. DAI especially celebrates the activism of everyone who is working towards rights for people with dementia and their families. This includes many young people, as many have to care for a family member with dementia, especially in low and middle income families. Let us all celebrate everyone’s human rights. Listen to DAI Chair, Kate Swaffer on why rights are everyone’s business.

#StandUp4HumanRights #CRPD #BanChemicalRestraint #HumanRightsBelong2Everyone

Details on how to join the Webinar will follow in 2020.

 

#Hello, my name is Kate

Another #DAI #Hello story, this time from DAI co founder, Kate Swaffer.

Hello, my name is Kate Swaffer. I am the current Chair and one of eight co founders of Dementia Alliance International (DAI). I received a diagnosis of the semantic variant of Primary Progressive Aphasia just over 11 years ago at the age  of 49, although at the time I was told it was Sementia Dementia when first diagnosed.

The first 12-18 months were spent in fear and even thoughts of suicide. I cried for weeks, expecting the worst. My whole family loss hope for our future together.

Why? Well, not one person, including health care professionals told us there was still a good life to live, even with dementia.

Then through Dr Google, I met the late Dr Richard Taylor online, and first through his writings and then chatting via email and google hangouts,  I then started to realised my life could go on. I used to tell him often, he saved my life!

The other life saving thing that happened, was being at university as they simply saw me as a person with acquired disabilities, and supportd be via their Disability Services to continue to live my life!  This link takes you to an article I wrote about dementia, rights and disability.

Studying for me was a hobby, so it was meaningful, and fun. It also has the benefits of neuroplasticity, for which there is growing evidence for its value in terms of rewiring our brains.

Then, and now, most people have the very wrong misperception that a person diagnosed with dementia goes from diagnosis, almost immediately to end stage, almost overnight, even many of the health care professionals.

It may be at an unconscious level, but most people who are newly diagnosed are still being Prescribed Disengagement¬ģ, also a reason that keeps me motivated to contiue to be an activist for changing what happenes at the time of diagnosis, and campaigning for rehabilitation and other disability support for us all.

At best, we are told to get acquainted with community or aged care services, and to get our end of life affaris in order. We  rarely receive referrals to disability services, or other allied health professionals such as speech pathologists to suppot language and communication disabilities.

This lack of post diagnostic support is a major breach of o ur most basic human rights.

I’ve written books and many articles since being diagnosed with dementia over the years, and continue to do so, as well as being very involved in research about improving the experience of diagnosis and quality of life for all people with dementia. ¬†I’m deeply grateful that Richard Taylor wrote and recorded a beautiful review of my first book, What the hell happened to my Brain: Livng beyond dementia.

My passion and goal is to empower people with dementia to live more positively and more independently with dementia, for as long as possible, rather than  to only go home and prepare to die via aged care. The other is to find a way for us all to work together globally, to advocate for global change.

Kate Swaffer © 2019

Note: Whilst many people know me, there are also many new DAI members who may not.  Hence, why I am saying #hello.

Please help us support more people with dementia to share their stories and live more positively by donating or partnering with Dementia Alliance International.