Building Dementia Friendly Communities? It’s just so AHP!

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By Sandra Shafii  AHP Dementia Consultant 

I wrote a blog a while ago called “Suffering from Brilliance” [1] that described the “Aha!” moments that create excitement and energy in me.  And I have to say that the idea of developing dementia friendly communities created that same wonderfully familiar energetic feeling….a feeling that drives you forward…. that makes sitting impossible….that gets you out of your chair (or bed!!!) and galvanises you into action….

Motherwell’s dementia friendly community initiative is now well known.  Our simple approach and easy to use tools and methodology have been picked up across Scotland ….across the rest of the UK…and even wider…. by Norway and other European countries.

It has been an exciting time….talking about our work, sharing our experience and encouraging others to take up the concept and get out there!

I don’t think I need to say anything more really…..EXCEPT……why me?

Why do I think that building dementia friendly communities is an AHP’s business ….?

The answer for me lies firmly in policy and strategy.

Current health and social care policy supports people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, safely and confidently.  Health and social care integration demands new ways of working together.

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But we also find words like “coproduction”, “community capacity” and “assets based” approaches being used extensively as we work together in our new (and existing!!!) partnerships.

Scotland’s National Dementia Strategies, The Charter of Rights for People with Dementia and their Carers in Scotland[2] emphasise the importance of citizenship, social inclusion and full participation in society….

And this feels like a call to action ……!!!!

It calls to the heart of what we as AHPs believe in and aspire to achieve.

If we want to support people to live as well as they can with dementia …then it make sense that we need a community that understands and supports its citizens who are living with the disease to continue to enjoy access to mainstream community opportunities and for all of us…as citizens… to be welcomed and understood

If, as AHPs, we believe that our main function in the health and social care system is to promote health and wellbeing, to work alongside people and their communities to help them find ways to compensate for health problems, overcome obstacles and challenges to living an ordinary everyday life, recover function, find ways to adapt to change, to self manage and feel empowered, valued and informed….

Then we must want to create communities around us that are resilient, caring supportive places for us all to live within…..communities that nurture, are understanding, that take pride and responsibility for health and wellbeing, that understand health problems and want to redress inequality.

Our Allied Health Professions Scotland Consensus Statement on Quality Service Values (2013)[3] is designed to unite us as Allied Health Professionals so that we can contribute to integrated service delivery to achieve the 2020 Vision for Healthcare in Scotland[4].

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These service values ask us to be compassionate in our care and leadership, work in partnership and build strong networks across a wide range of sectors, be accountable for what we do ….and that the health, safety and wellbeing of all should be at the heart of everything we do.

And specifically in the Person Centred Care section it states “ service users can expect Allied Health Professionals to work in partnership with them to enable access to services within health, social care and their local communities which will support them to self-direct and self manage their health and social care needs”.

Indeed our Allied Health Professions National Delivery Plan (2012 – 2015)[5] encourages us to create added value beyond health and deliver excellent outcomes for people who use services, their families and carers.  Specifically Action 3.2 asks us to enhance community capacity building and use assets based approaches and work in new partnerships

So…in answer to the question that has been posed to me several times……How could I NOT be involved in developing dementia friendly communities?  

As an AHP I have a focus on rehabilitative and recovery based approaches.  AHPs have always supported people to achieve their goals through the development of coping strategies and compensatory techniques… always identifying and building on capacity, strengths and assets……and this approach underpinned our development work in Motherwell!!!

I think being a part of building dementia friendly communities breathes life into our health and social care strategies and policies…..makes them an “on the ground” reality…and what AHP doesn’t want to just get out there and do something that builds on strength and capacity, that demands innovative, creative and energetic input….that supports us to work with people and communities in what matters to them!!!

It is what makes us tick….it describes what an AHP is….and does!

Building Dementia Friendly Communities???? It’s just so AHP!!!!!

Sandra Shafii


[1] “Suffering from Brilliance” AHPScot Blog – Sandra Shafii (2013) https://ahpscot.wordpress.com/2013/05/20/suffering-from-brilliance/

[2] The Charter of Rights for People with Dementia and their Carers in Scotland   (2009) http://www.dementiarights.org/charter-of-rights/

[3] Allied Health Professions Scotland Consensus Statement on Quality Service Values (2013) http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0043/00438291.pdf

[4] Achieving Sustainable Quality in Scotland’s Healthcare – a 2020 Vision http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0039/00398668.doc

[5] AHPs as agents of change in health and social care : The National Delivery Plan for the Allied Health Professions in Scotland (2012 -2015)  http://www.scotland.gov.uk/Resource/0039/00395491.pdf

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