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Dementia-Friendly Kiama honoured in National Disability Awards

First-of-its-kind initiative recognised for community partnerships

An initiative that aims to transform the town of Kiama into a dementia-friendly environment has been recognised in the National Disability Awards, announced last night (Monday 7 November) in Canberra.

The Dementia-Friendly Kiama project, a collaboration between the University of Wollongong’s Global Challenges Program, Alzheimer’s Australia and Kiama Municipal Council, received the Community Partnerships award during the event.

The project, which launched in 2014, aims to examine the way people with dementia interact with their social and physical environments.

The team of UOW researchers are working with the council and the community to improve services such as street signage, retail design and access to transport; reducing the stigma associated with dementia; helping local businesses and organisations to become dementia-friendly; and providing greater education about the disease in the wider community.

Professor Richard Fleming, from UOW's School of Nursing, said Kiama is the first community in Australia to implement changes of this scale.

“What we are seeing here is one of Australia’s first efforts at developing a truly dementia friendly community,” Professor Fleming said.

Dr Lyn Phillipson (pictured), from UOW’s School of Health and Society, said dementia would have a growing impact on the community as our population ages, creating a situation in which many feel isolated by their disease.

The number of people with dementia is expected to reach one million by 2050.

“We need to create communities where people understand dementia and where there are opportunities for engagement to enable those with dementia to live in their communities with meaning, purpose, and quality of life,” Dr Phillipson said.

As part of the project, researchers from UOW have developed an interactive website that allows users to map 'dementia friendly' places in Kiama.

Our Place is designed to assist people with dementia and their supporters to share local knowledge about places in their neighbourhood that are enabling for people with dementia. It also allows users to shares ideas about places that could be improved.

Dementia-Friendly Kiama won the Excellence in Community Partnerships Award during the 10th annual National Disability Awards.

Since the project was implemented, more than 300 people in the community have been trained in dementia awareness and more than 150 people have become a dementia friend.

The National Disability Awards are held each year in the lead up to International Day of People with Disability, a United Nations sanctioned day held on December 3.

UOW’s Global Challenges Program is a strategic research initiative that aims to changes people’s lives and worlds.

Posted in Health and Medicine
Tagged: Dementia