Category Archives: Human rights

Dementia and Rehabilitation by Emily Tan Tan Ong

We are pleased to publish the following article written by DAI member Emily Tan Tan Ong on Dementia and Rehabilitation, or rather, the lack of rehabilitation for people with dementia.

Emily mentions in her article that rehabilitation for dementia is not heard of in her country; most other DAI members also report it is unheard of in their countries.

As our CEO Kate Swaffer says: “If we are afforded rehabilitation after a stroke or other brain injury or medical condition, then we have the same right to be after a diagnosis of dementia. It won’t be a cure, and may not even slow the progression, but rehabilition does improve quality of life.”

I keep the patients alive. Rehabilitation gives them Quality of Life. 

(Dr. Tagio Tumas, Ministry of Health, WHO Rehabilitation 2030 Forum, Geneva, July 2019).

Dementia and Rehabilitation, by Emily Tan Tan Ong

With no means to significantly modify the progression of dementia and no cure in the foreseeable future, the rehabilitation approach is an integral part of living positively with dementia.

Rehabilitation, in its essence, is a set of interventions needed when a person is experiencing limitations in everyday physical, mental, and social functioning due to aging or a health condition, including chronic diseases or disorders, injuries, or trauma [1]. It is estimated that at least 1 in 3 people in the world are living with a health condition that would benefit from rehabilitation [2].

Despite this, rehabilitation has not been prioritized and is under-resourced globally.

A possible explanation could be rehabilitation is often perceived as an expensive and specialized service provided at the secondary care level and needed by those recovering from injury or stroke. Hence, the perception that rehabilitation is a luxury health service in addition to primary health care has caused it to be undervalued and ignored when competing demands for resources and investments.

As a result, people living with terminal, progressive health conditions like dementia, which require long-term rehabilitation services, are left behind when rehabilitation is not part of or accessible at the primary health care level.

Earlier on in my journey living with dementia, I was having difficulties with some of the everyday functioning. I was confused at the public transport interchange, overwhelmed with sequential tasks like cooking and baking, and not able to remember the content of the paragraph I just read.

It is like saying, “Sorry too bad you are diagnosed with dementia but there is nothing we can help you to continue living other than attending Adult Day Care Center or Memories Cafe.  One is told that is the way life is going to be, living with dementia, losing one’s functional and cognitive abilities, and independence.

Hence, it is not surprising many newly diagnosed with young-onset dementia go into depression. It is emotionally tormenting to be alive and not able to do things when you still have insights into who you are, what you value, and how you want to live despite dementia.

Rehabilitation in dementia is unheard of in this part of the world where I live.

The” ESTEEM” cognitive rehabilitation program, a partnership between the National Neuro Institute and the Singapore Alzheimer Disease Association is available to individuals diagnosed with moderate young-onset dementia. Hence, I was left unsupported to cope with my cognitive impairment when Cognitive Rehabilitation (CR) interventions would have helped to ease in transitioning my life to the ‘new normal’ with dementia in a more positive and encouraging light.

I came across the GREAT Cognitive Rehabilitation project of Professor Linda Clare from the University of Exeter when looking for ways to self-help myself.

The program uses a goal-oriented approach to enable people living with mild to moderate dementia to “function optimally in the context of their intrinsic capacity and current health state” [3].

However, the GREAT project is delivered by trained therapists who then work together with each individual to formulate meaningful and intrinsically motivated goals that are realistic and potentially achievable. The drawback is that not everyone can access trained cognitive rehabilitation therapists.

The training materials available are for therapists specializing in cognitive rehabilitation. The content was wordy and conceptual, but I am determined to translate whatever information I could obtain into a self-help Cognitive Rehabilitation strategy. I took ages to read, comprehend the principles, and come out with ways to maintain or regain, or in some cases, compensate for my declining functional ability. It was the best thing I have done to sustain my independence and continue living the life I want. Three years down the road with dementia, I still cook, bake, and enjoy reading. I found that the Cognitive Rehabilitation strategies have enabled me to become stronger in areas I didn’t even consider would be possible. I learned to make bread at home, I regained my ability to use a laptop, and more apt at making Powerpoint slides. The best of all, I conquered my inadequacy and incompetency in writing. I now love to write for my blog.

I want to appeal to policymakers to acknowledge the rights of people living with dementia to rehabilitation services and make it part of the primary healthcare system. It is without a doubt that creating an accessible, dementia-friendly neighborhood help to remove external barriers to participation it is even more crucial to enable people living with dementia to participate in everyday life in a manner that is meaningful and purposeful to them. In this way, it also helps to dispel the public perception of incapacity in dementia.

References:

[1] Cieza A. Rehabilitation the health strategy of the 21st century. Arch Phys Med Rehabil. 2019; 100: 2212-2214

[2] Cieza A. et al.. Global estimates of the need for rehabilitation based on the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2019. Lancet. 2020; 396: 2006-2017

[3] Clare L (2017) Rehabilitation for people living with dementia: A practical framework of positive support. PLoS Med 14(3): e1002245. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1002245

Ps. Don’t forget to register for our next “Meeting Of The Minds” Webinar, Disrupted! Resiliently Reintegrating After Stress & Adversity by Dr Kozhi Sidney Makai.

Assoc. Professor James McLoughlin presents here on rehabilitation and dementia at a DAI Webinar hosted in 2016. It is still a hard sell!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

International Womens Day 2021

On March 8 each year DAI joins the world in celebrating and recognising women. The theme in 2021 is #ChooseToChallenge. A challenged world is an alert world. Individually, we’re all responsible for our own thoughts and actions – all day, every day.

We can all choose to challenge and call out gender bias and inequality. We can all choose to seek out and celebrate women’s achievements. Collectively, we can all help create an inclusive world.

From challenge comes change, so let’s all choose to challenge.

In reality, all women and men make a difference, but historically, and even today, women often do not receive public recognition or praise for their work.

DAI represents the more than 50 million people currently living with dementia, and I am one of them, and those with a new diagnosis of dementia every 3 seconds, and whilst dementia is a chronic, progressive terminal condition, it is listed by the WHO as the fifth highest cause of death for women worldwide and is a major cause of death and disability in older persons.

Women make up 2/3 of dementia care supporters and more than 70% in lower and middle-income countries. Unpaid women carers compared to male carers, are also more often unemployed due to their unpaid role; girls who are carers also miss out on education.

Everyone impacted by dementia receives little if any health care, including a lack of access to a diagnosis, nor appropriate support to live with dementia once diagnosed.

Older women, especially widows, can be exposed to what has been termed a ‘triple jeopardy’ discriminated against as a result of their age, sex and condition (carer or diagnosed with dementia).

The stigma surrounding dementia exists universally, with women more likely to be stigmatised in this way.  Extreme forms of discrimination can lead to women with the condition facing abuse, violence and even death.

Governments, international civil society and partners around the world must get behind this global challenge and unite for a world where no woman is left behind because of her dementia, and you can join with us on March 8, 2021 by donating to support our work.

Gendered barriers to mobility and accessing justice lead to isolation and exclusion.

Understanding intersecting forms of gender- and disability-based violence, exploitation and abuse against women with disabilities including forced medical and psychiatric interventions.

Women with disabilities experience this type of abuse at disproportionately higher rates than others, and in unique forms owing to ingrained discrimination and stigmatization.

It is estimated that women with disabilities are 1.5 to 10 times more likely to be physically or sexually abused by a family member or caregiver than other women.

Women with disabilities are often excluded from national laws and policies and remain marginal to global discussions and agreements relevant to their empowerment. The global women’s agenda seldom takes into consideration the issues and concerns of women with disabilities.

In addition, women with disabilities are also neglected within the disability movement and the mainstream women’s movement. Stand-alone policies on women with disabilities remain limited; they are often excluded in policymaking and decision-making processes.

More often, women and girls also are the main informal family care partners for people livign with dementia, so not only do more women get diagnosed with any types of dementia they do the lions share of the informal care.

#ChooseToChallenge

About International Women’s Day

“International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity. Significant activity is witnessed worldwide as groups come together to celebrate women’s achievements or rally for women’s equality.

Marked annually on March 8th, International Women’s Day (IWD) is one of the most important days of the year to:

  • celebrate women’s achievements
  • raise awareness about women’s equality
  • lobby for accelerated gender parity
  • fundraise for female-focused charities”

Please donate to Dementia Alliance International today, as the charity directly supporting women living with dementia and their families.  Thank you.

You are invited to DAI’s 7th birthday Cafe

You are invited to the January 2021 virtual DAI Cafe Le Brain to help us celebrate 7 years of DAI’s advocacy and progress.

DAI Celebrates 7 Years

Hosts: Christine Thelker, Wally Cox and Kate Swaffer

Speakers include: Mr John Sandblom, Co founder and Treasurer, Dementia Alliance International, Mr Glenn Rees, Chair, Alzheimers Disease International and Ms Bethany Browne, Human Rights Advisor, International Disability Alliance.

Everyone is welcome.

DAI members will receive the zoom link to join by email.
All others will need to register here please.

DAY/DATE(S):

  • Tuesday, January 26, 2021 (USA/CA/UK/EU)
  • Wednesday, January 27, 2021 (AU/NZ/Asia)
  • Please note this is one event, set in a number of different time zones.

About the Cafe: Every month, DAI hosts a virtual café for its members and their families and supporters, and we have been doing so now for over 7 years!

Each January, we take this opportunity to celebrate our birthday together, and we invite you to join us. From small and humble dreams of global advocacy and human rights, and now, for dementia to be managed as a disability, alongside providing weekly peer to peer support and brain health sessions, we have achieved a lot!

This is your opportunity to hear from others who will share where we have been, acknowledging the work we have done, and dreaming together for our future. Our vision is for all people to be valued and equally included, including people with dementia and our care partners.

Everyone is welcome.

DAI members will receive the zoom link to join by email.
All others will need to register here please.

Programme:

  • Introductions and welcome by Kate Swaffer
  • Graeme Atkins performs, Happy 7th birthday DAI
  • Introducing our new Chair, Alister Robertson from New Zealand
  • Board update, Alister Robertson
  • DAI ‘(W)re-creational Officer, Graeme Atkins performs the DAI 7th birthday song, written by him
  • DAI’s global advocacy, and the value of our collaboration with ADI, by Glenn Rees
  • The importance of human rights and the CRPD for people with dementia, by Bethany Browne
  • An overview of the last 7 years (with images), hosted by Christine, Kate and Wally; you will hear from others including co founder Amy Shives and our long term volunteer Sarah Yeates

We will hear from a number of members and guests, inluding some of our co founders, volunteers and other special guests, including:

Mr John Sandblom, who is a co-founder of Dementia Alliance International (DAI), board member and the current Treasurer, and was instrumental in helping to set up DAI.

Mr Glenn Rees, who is the outgoing Chair of Alzheimer’s Disease International, and a former Chief Executive Office of Dementia Australia.

Ms Bethany Browne, who is the Human Rights Advisor to the International Disability Alliance, and formely worked for Human Rights Watch, including writing two reports on the excessive use of chemical restraint in nursing homes in the US and Australia.

Everyone is welcome.

DAI members will receive the zoom link to join by email.
All others will need to register here please.

DAY/DATE(S):

Tuesday, January 26, 2021 (USA/CA/UK/EU):

  • 1:00 pm Pacific
  • 2:00 pm Mountain
  • 3:00 pm Central
  • 4:00 pm Eastern
  • 9:00 pm London/Glasgow/Dublin UK
  • 10:00 pm Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, EU

Wednesday, January 26, 2021 ( AU/NZ/ASIA):

  • 5:00 am Perth, AU/Taipei/Singapore
  • 7:00 am Brisbane, AU
  • 7:30 am Adelaide, AU
  • 8:00 am Sydney/Melbourne/Canberra/Tasmania/Brisbane, AU
  • 10:00 am Auckland, NZ

The Webinar runs for up to 1.5 hours.

Check your time here if not listed above.

COST TO ATTEND:

  • FREE
  • YOUR DONATIONS ARE GREATLY APPRECIATED

PLEASE DONATE TO DAI OR BECOME AN ASSOCIATE OR PARTNER WITH US. WITHOUT YOU, DAI COULD NOT PROVIDE THE SERVICES WE PROVIDE CURRENTLY FOR MEMBERS, THEIR FAMILIES & OUR GLOBAL FAMILY.

Support people with dementia:

Everyone is welcome.

DAI members will receive the zoom link to join by email.
All others will need to register here please.

THANK YOU

Human Rights Day

Ever year on December 10, we observe Human Rights Day, which is the day the United Nations General Assembly adopted, in 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). This is a milestone document that proclaims the inalienable rights which everyone is entitled to, includign people with dementia. They are rights which must be afforded to all human beings, regardless of race, colour, religion, sex, language, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. It is available in more than 500 languages, it is the most translated document in the world.

The 2020 theme is ‘Recover Better: Stand Up for Human Rights’

This years theme relates to the COVID-19 pandemic and focuses on the need to build back better by ensuring Human Rights are central to the global recovery efforts. We must all work together to create equal opportunities for all, and address the failures exposed and exploited by COVID-19. We must then ensure and advocate for everyone to apply human rights standards to tackle entrenched, systematic, and intergenerational inequalities, exclusion and discrimination.

Never before have the inequities and violations of human rights of those living with dementia and their families been so exposed.

Let us all ensure 10 December is our opportunity to collaborate, co-operate and work together to reaffirm the importance of human rights in re-building the world we all want, and the need for global solidarity as well as our interconnectedness and shared humanity.

Below we share the what the United Nations has outlined for us all, to work towards.

Human Rights must be at the centre of the post COVID-19 world

The COVID-19 crisis has been fuelled by deepening poverty, rising inequalities, structural and entrenched discrimination and other gaps in human rights protection. Only measures to close these gaps and advance human rights can ensure we fully recover and build back a world that is better, more resilient, just, and sustainable.

  • End discrimination of any kind: Structural discrimination and racism have fuelled the COVID-19 crisis. Equality and non-discrimination are core requirements for a post-COVID world.
  • Address inequalities: To recover from the crisis, we must also address the inequality pandemic. For that, we need to promote and protect economic, social, and cultural rights. We need a new social contract for a new era.
  • Encourage participation and solidarity: We are all in this together. From individuals to governments, from civil society and grass-roots communities to the private sector, everyone has a role in building a post-COVID world that is better for present and future generations. We need to ensure the voices of the most affected and vulnerable inform the recovery efforts.
  • Promote sustainable development: We need sustainable development for people and planet. Human rights, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement are the cornerstone of a recovery that leaves no one behind.

International Day of Persons with Disabilities

The Dementia Alliance International (DAI) membership joins the rest of the world on Thursday 3rd December 2020 to observe the International Day of Persons with Disabilities under the theme “Toward a disability inclusive, accessible and sustainable post COVID-19 world”.

The annual observance of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was proclaimed in 1992 by United Nations General Assembly. It aims to promote the rights, quality of life and well-being of persons with disabilities and to increase awareness of their situation in every aspect of political, social, economic, and cultural life.

Until recently, people with dementia have been left behind, including in those events and discussions about persons with disabilities, as too few understand dementia is a major cause of disability ad dependence in older persons globally. Many age-related health conditions also cause disability, and the global data does not yet reflect these cohorts.

As the world grapples with the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, many decisions by policy-makers have failed to take into consideration the rights of persons with disabilities enshrined in the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGS). This is evident in a recent report following a global study which examined the extent to which COVID-19 pandemic has exposed some deep structural inequalities in society.

Data gathered from a study done by for one report “COVID-19, Amplifying Voices: Our Lives, Our Say”, is evidencing that persons with disabilities, older persons, and persons from lower socioeconomic status backgrounds are among those hardest hit by the pandemic.

While this particular report puts a spotlight on the voices of blind and partially sighted persons, many of the experiences shared strongly resonate with numerous other studies conducted by other organizations of persons with disabilities internationally.

In order to ensure that no one is left behind in any aspect, we take this opportunity to call for effective collaboration with representative organizations of persons with disabilities, governments, communities, civil society, UN and other international agencies, and the private sector as we collectively strive to build and sustain a better, more inclusive post-COVID society.

We especially call for governments and health care professionals to accept dementia as a condition causing multiple and progressive disabilities, and to provide disability assessment and support immediately following a diagnosis, including rehabilitation.

 

Video: Our rights under threat as we grow old

The recording of the virtual Side Event held today during the 13th session of the Conference of States Parties to the CRPD is available to watch now.

Our rights under threat as we grow old:  A timely expert discussion on the intersection of disability and age.

1 Dec 2020: A discussion on the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on older persons and persons with disabilities, exacerbated by existing ageism, ableism, and shortcomings in support systems and residential care.

Speakers:

  • Gerard Quinn, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities
  • Claudia Mahler, Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of all Human Rights by Older Persons
  • Kate Swaffer, Chair, CEO & Co-founder, Dementia Alliance International (DAI)

Moderator: Bethany Brown, Human Rights Advisor, International Disability Alliance (IDA)

It is also avalable to view on the on the webtv.un.org:  http://webtv.un.org/watch/our-rights-under-threat-as-we-grow-old-a-timely-expert-discussion-on-the-intersection-of-disability-and-age-cosp13-side-event/6213396021001/

Human rights as a practice model in residential aged care, by Daniella Greenwood

DAI’s September Webinar on “Human rights as a practice model in residential aged care“, is presented by International dementia consultant Daniella Greenwood, who has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons 1), a Bachelor of Health Science (Leisure & Health/Therapeutic Recreation) and a Diploma of Diversional Therapy.

DAI is honoured to have had Daniella present on this very important topic to our audience.

About the webinar: Paternalism structures the lives of people living with dementia in residential/long-term care and diminishes their status as equal citizens. Person-centred and relationship-centred approaches have failed to address the deeply embedded philosophical and operational influence of the medical/institutional model and paternalistic assumptions. People living with dementia in these institutions continue to be treated as patients rather than as adult citizens, exposing them to regular, unchallenged and often casual breaches of their human rights justified as ‘best interests’ or as ‘interventions’ to manage what are commonly referred to as the Behavioural and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia.

The focus on ‘culture change’ has further obscured our urgent obligation to address the blatant and often state-sanctioned human rights breaches in residential/long-term care – which in any other care context would be regarded as profoundly unjust and, in many instances, illegal. A human rights lens is applied with practical examples outlining the possibility of creating an environment of recognition and true respect in long-term care through solidarity in aligning operations, attitudes, practices and processes with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

About Daniella Greenwood: Daniella an international consultant, speaker and published author specialising in human rights policy and practice in long-term care. Her dissertation looked at human rights practice as it relates to citizen residents living in the later stages of dementia. She has presented her work to federal parliamentarians and as a keynote speaker including for Alzheimer’s Disease International in 2015 and Dementia Action Alliance in 2019. Daniella is also a musician who has composed and performed music to accompany some of Kate Swaffer’s poetry.

About DAI: Dementia Alliance International (DAI is a non-profit group of people with dementia from around the world seeking to represent, support, and educate others living with the disease that it is possible to live more positively than advised with dementia. It is an organization that promotes a unified voice of strength, advocacy and support in the fight for individual autonomy, improved quality of life, and for the human and legal rights of all with dementia and their families.

Membership of, and services provided by Dementia Alliance International is FREE, and open to anyone with a diagnosis of any type of dementia.

Join DAI here: www.joindai.org Read our newsletters or regular blogs, by subscribing here: www.dementiaallianceinternational.org

Since you’re here… we’re asking viewers like you to support our members, by donating to our organization. With more than 50 million people living with dementia, and the Coronavirus 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.

Donating or partnering with us will make a difference to the lives of people with dementia.

Thank you.

Newsflash: Professor Gerard Quinn is the new UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities

Image: Professor Gerard Quinn is the new UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities

The Dementia Alliance International wishes to congratulate Professor Gerard Quinn on his appointment as the new UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of persons with disabilities.

Mr. Quinn takes over the role from Ms. Catalina Devandas Aguilar who has worked tirelessly for persons with disabilities, and who has been appointed as Costa Rica’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva. Catalina has actively worked to ensure people with dementia are included in this work, for which we thank her.

Given Mr. Quinn’s extensive experience and expertise, we look forward to the implementation of this important mandate in the coming years.

It is a critical time for the rights of persons with disabilities, and we know Professor Quinn will carry out his role in a way that ensures inclusive, systematic and sustainable change to ensure the universal respect, protection, and fulfillment of the rights of person with disabilities, including peopel with dementia, while fully considering multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.

The Dementia Alliance International looks forward to the Special Rapporteur’s contribution to the successful implementation of the United Nations Disability Inclusion Strategy as part of ongoing efforts to ensure that the United Nations system is fit for purpose in relation to disability inclusion.

Among his priorities, Mr. Quinn said that he will work to ensure that the voices of persons with disabilities are heard loud and clear, in global responses to general calamities caused by Covid-19, climate change and the armed conflicts. He highlighted the need for systemic change to underpin the gains of the UN CRPD, and to focus attention on the cultural and structural changes needed for the Sustainable Development Goals to be attained.

He will also continue to bring attention to the positive contribution of persons with disabilities, including highlighting the need to promote our active citizenship.

Mr. Quinn is a Professor Emeritus in law at the National University of Ireland, with a long career in public service. He sits on the scientific committee of the European Union Fundamental Rights Agency (EU FRA, Vienna), and has led the delegation of Rehabilitation International during the drafting of the UN CRPD.  To learn more about Mr. Quinn, follow this link.

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: “It’s 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.”

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 – 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.”

In an article I co-authored with Prof. Richard Fleming, Dr Linda Steele and others, we quoted Susan Cahill, who noted, the CRPD ‘allows 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’.

Once we accept that ‘dementia is a major cause of disability’ 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 – 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 ‘cross-cutting principles’.

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 – Thank you

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

  • We don’t 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