Dementia Friendly Communities ? An Interesting View?

Nicked from Chill4Us … interesting one :
Dr Shibley Rahman | Dr Shibley Rahman blog

Call me a heretic. I can’t stand dementia friendly communities.


Being accused of witchcraft in the Middle Ages meant being labeled as a heretic. If accused of witchcraft, the accused was forced to confess, even if he was innocent, through brutal torture. And then he was hanged or burnt alive for his crimes.

But I can’t stand ‘dementia friendly communities’. They perpetuate the idea of people of dementia as a homogeneous mass with largely identical characteristics, abolishing diversity, with broadly equal needs.

We know that this is a ludricous as having ‘female friendly communities’. Sure, ‘female friendly communities’ can be achieved in theory by having a sanitary towel bin in every restaurant in the United Kingdom, and can be mass marketed with its own logo, but that doesn’t make it a ‘social movement’.

The main purported goal of ‘dementia friendly communities’ is that they help to reduce stigma against dementia. I disagree. It’s still possible to have rampant prejudice against something and still run the pretence of inclusion, in this case special restaurants where you might have a better ‘dementia friendly’ customer experience. True integration and inclusion is not the same as having ‘managed’ friendliness in discrete foci of society.

Their fans are everywhere, presenting dementia friendly communities as the solution to a burning injustice. It might be complicated why a person sees a general practitioner to enquire about a possible diagnosis of dementia, and yet reductionist conspiracy theorists in big charities present this as a big campaign of people being ‘prevented from’ having a right to diagnosis.

Unpaid carers meanwhile are exhausted from having to prepare meals and change incontinence pads. Bedbound persons with dementia are not the target audience of ‘dementia friendly restaurants’. Nor are they the target group of ‘dementia friendly theatres’. Or any other type of ‘dementia friendly bullshit’.

Think to yourself for a moment how each of these bubbles is supposed to help with a person with a more advanced dementia, who might have trouble speaking, swallowing, navigatingIf or thinking.

If you can’t do that, think of the realistic possibility that “dementia friendly communities” actually promote and discriminate against stigma against people with more advanced dementia at the expense of people with much milder symptoms.

And yet there is now a magic formula for raising money from grant bodies. All you have to do is to tick the boxes of ‘improving awareness’, ‘tackling stigma’ and ‘influencing policy’. Arguably neither for love nor money, national dementia plans are no substitute for well funded, fair and equitable health and social care systems, and yet the bureaucrats think they are a means to an end well worth fighting for.

I have to wonder what on earth is the point of charities devoted specifically to dementia. It is argued primarily that they do a lot of good by funding valuable research, but here in England they have been uniquely ineffective in paving the way to excellent care through wilful blindness to relate underfunding of health and social care. It is argued that they have ‘increased capacity’ within the system, building ‘resilience’, but these are just lazy memes.

If the problem was a lack of education about dementia, the quality of information in ‘Dementia Friends’ is too poor to be the solution, most of us professionals would freely admit. I don’t even think the information is ‘good enough’ to help millions of unpaid carers sufficiently, if the purpose of ‘Dementia Friends’ was to replace the welfare state with hundreds of thousands of ‘little platoons’.

The worry most definitely is that this was launched at a time to embark upon political austerity. By giving unpaid family members a basic ‘understanding’ of dementia, one could have expected them to slip seamlessly into the demanding rôle of the unpaid family carer, saving the welfare state millions of pounds. That is called taking advantage.

Most of all, I take objection to the idea that a mass marketing campaign, well funded across big charity in several jurisdictions, can be equated to a social movement. The burning injustice in this case is the lack of trademarks for fundraising by charity, in a way that only McDonalds or Burger King might find unfair.

I don’t also where the ultimate endpoint of all this work from dementia charities is not in material terms to “improve things”, but instead to “influence policy” .

“Dementia friendly communities” is nothing more than a sleazy bandwagon designed to make a certain elite very happy, while real grassroots campaigners in dementias and caring are left struggling. If there were ever a time to call out a particular set of ’emperors new clothes’, it is now.

I still think the mass general public don’t have a clue about dementia. There is a very sterotypical view that someone with dementia forgets where they left the keys (who doesn’t?) , repeats things a lot and occasionally wanders down the road in their nightie.
Better education about the toll it takes would be money better spent.

I personally don’t think you need a badge to say your qualified to be a “dementia friend” as dementia affects so many people now it’s impossible to find a person who isn’t aware of the “condition” because it’s highly likely it’s affected someone in there family.

I don’t need a badge to help my mum or a neighbour, or a stranger …It’s all about just looking out for each other.

The other day I helped a lady on her mobility scooter who was struggling to get her shopping from her basket onto the checkout belt whilst the assistant sat on her arse and looked on like a lemon…

Or my neighbour who noticed the gentleman who lives over the road and has dementia go out one day for a walk and leave his front door open so she followed him and found he had fallen over at the top of the road so waited with him until the ambulance arrived…

That’s not a “Dementia” friend…it’s just a friend and we can all do that. No qualification required

I agree with Linda. We have dementia friendly communities here, and Romsey is now said to be the first Makaton friendly town in the UK. M used Makaton sign language when he was little, and was very frustrated when others outside the family didn’t understand it.