Dementia: Understand Together in communities is led by the HSE and aims to raise awareness and increase people’s understanding of dementia, to inspire the nation to stand together with those affected. We want to change the culture around dementia and help create an Ireland that embraces and includes people living with the condition.
Each year over 11,000 people in Ireland develop dementia. Behind the numbers are mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, neighbours and friends. All are living with a degenerative neurological condition that deeply affects their lives and the lives of people who care for them.
The majority of people with dementia in Ireland live in the community. These communities have been going through significant changes this year that have brought challenges for people with dementia and their families. With many staying at home due to Covid-19 and services changing to help protect people from the virus, people living with dementia are missing important social connections and activities, so important for wellbeing. Loneliness, isolation, and fear of being forgotten are just some of the consequences.
The nature of business and community services is also changing. Businesses, service providers and community groups can, and are, making a big difference to the quality of life for people with dementia and their families by enabling them to stay connected, avail of services and be supported in communities.
Partnering with the campaign, Tipperary County Council is embarking on the journey of making its towns inclusive. Dementia awareness training for businesses and communityand sport groups as well as training on dementia inclusive design and walkability audits are part of the programme. The outcome of this project is to ensure that people with dementia and their families are supported in our communities and to increase awareness across the county. Fiona Crotty, Tipperary County Council notes that “the project, funded by Healthy Ireland and supporting the Healthy Tipperary Strategy, will commence with delivery of training in the Thurles Municipal District and this will, over the coming months be delivered across all 5 Districts increasing awareness across the county”.
Together with its key partners, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and the HSE’s Dementia: Understand Together campaign, the Council developed an online training programme, which consists of three workbooks, resources and a live training session for a variety of audiences. Following on from that, for those who would like to become more active as community champions, inspiring others to get involved, have the opportunity to enrol in a champion induction programme after the initial training. “We are very excited to be working with Tipperary County Council to deliver the initial Learn Listen Link course which is fully online and available on The Alzheimer Society of Ireland’s Moodle Workplace site. Participants on the course will have the opportunity to learn more about dementia in Ireland, listen to the voice of the person with dementia and link in and consider how their communities could become more dementia inclusive,” said Fergus Timmons External Learning and Development Manager at The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.
“Many local community champions work hand-in-hand with organisations, councils and local businesses to raise awareness. They do this by talking about dementia, sharing information, providing awareness sessions training, and by inspiring others in the community to learn more about dementia and the things they can do to support a person. They are the spirit of the campaign” says Fiona Foley, National Coordinator of Dementia: Understand Together in communities.
The Dementia: Understand Together campaign is led by the HSE in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Age Friendly Ireland. For information on supports, as well as information on how to become a dementia champion in your community, visit www.understandtogether.ie or
Free phone the helpline provided by the Alzheimer Society on1800 341 341 (Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, Saturday 10am to 4pm).