Kiama DFC project wins WHO Award

screen-shot-2016-09-16-at-3-42-19-pmThis post was first published by DAI co-founder Kate Swaffer earlier this month, but it needs to be published here in celebration of the incredible achievements of the Kiama Dementia Friendly Community Project.

Hence, as part of our daily series for World Alzheimer’s Month 2016 #WAM2016 #DAM2016,  we celebrate and salute them all here.

In June of this year, the Kiama Dementia Friendly Pilot Project which was started as a joint project between Alzheimers Australia, the University of Wollongong and the Kiama Municipal Council, is celebrating. It is striving hard to ensure the Kiama Municipality more inclusive for people living with dementia won a prestigious National Award for Local Government in the Disability Access and Inclusion category.

Many of us in Dementia Alliance International, and beyond, have been saying we have felt it to be the GOLD standard of any dementia friendly community project that any of us have seen or heard of. It seems, the world Health Organisation agrees.

In part, this is because early in the project they set up a Local Dementia Advisory Group (lovingly known as the DAG’s), made up of people with dementia supported by their care partners or friends and significant others, to guide and inform the project. Inclusion in this project has not been tokenism, and they are constantly stretching to find ways to ensure it reaches more than a select few.

When global advocate from Scotland, also a member of DAI, and an inaugural member of Scottish Dementia Working Group Agnes Houston visited Kiama in May, she said; “I have heard others call the DFC initiative in Kiama the gold standard. Now I understand why!”

Full and equal inclusion in everything that is about us, and being supported to live independently in our communities, with support for the disabilities caused by dementia, is not only desirable, it is our basic human right.

Kiama have just recently won another award, this time an International one from The World Health Organisation (WHO). WOW! Read the article in the Kiama Independent Kiama Dementia Friendly Project project wins WHO award

They were recognised for the efforts of Kiama council’s Health Plan and in particular the Kiama Dementia Friendly Project.

Kiama councillor Kathy Rice recently received the council’s award at the seventh Global Conference of the Alliance for Healthy Cities at Wonju City, South Korea. “It’s a great honour to be able to receive this award from the WHO in recognition of Kiama council’s best practice in health,” Cr Rice said.

“The presentation of the award before 500 international delegates has also extended the worldwide recognition of the Dementia Friendly Kiama Project*.”

The first activity of the project featured researchers from UOW learning what it is like to live in Kiama for people with dementia. This guided subsequent work such as:

  • Improving signage, access to transport, businesses and other services;
  • Access to community activities and reduction of the stigma associated with dementia;
  • General community education and specialist education for local medical services and businesses.

It is thrilling to hear that funding has been secured to continue the project into the next phase, moving from a Dementia Friendly Community to a Dementia Enabling Community. and the local University in Wollongong has continued on with a project called Dementia Enabling University Strategy to ensure dementia education become part of all programs there.

The Kiama Dementia Friendly Project commenced in July 2014 when Kiama council was approached by Alzheimer’s Australia and the University of Wollongong to take part in a pilot that would see Kiama work towards being one of Australia’s first Dementia Friendly Communities.