Developing dementia friendly communities starting from the person

Part of my role as Community Circles Connector in Rochdale is working with people living with dementia to develop a circle of support.  Community Circles are a way for us to support each other in our local communities, a way of developing dementia friendly communities starting with the person.  Lynda’s circle has supported her to have a valued role within her community as a volunteer at the local walking group and the contributions her friends make through their casserole club supports everyone’s wellbeing, through giving and connecting with each other.  You can read more about Lynda’s circle here http://community-circles.co.uk/stories-and-resources/lyndas-circle/

Often we hear that following a diagnosis of dementia, friendships may drift apart.  One reason may be people’s lack of understanding about dementia and a feeling that they may not be able to relate to someone living with dementia; hopefully Dementia Friends sessions are raising awareness and understanding, you can find details of sessions here www.dementiafriends.org.uk Lynda’s circle has intentionally brought friends together, quality time spent together and a sense of belonging around a common purpose, making a contribution to support Lynda to live well.

Brian’s circle also supports his wellbeing through regularly connecting with friends, an opportunity to reminisce and chat about shared interests.  Through focussed conversation Brian and his wife have returned to dancing, which they love but hadn’t done for a while.  The conversations in a circle always focus on ‘how can we make this happen?’

The purpose of May’s circle is to support her to get singing again.  May is now part of Stockport Community Choir, doing something that she loves, joining together with other people in her community.  May’s contribution to the choir supports other people to get to know the person and not just see the label of dementia.  Her connections with the choir not only supports May’s wellbeing but is also creating a dementia friendly community starting with her.

I’ve just had the first conversation with someone living with dementia who wants to start a circle, looking for support to make new connections and avoid becoming isolated.  This chat took place whilst walking around Hollingworth Lake, a lovely opportunity to think about what Simon hopes to achieve, getting to know how he would like to spend his time and sharing ideas.  Vicky, the befriending manager from the Alzheimers Society, is also supporting Simon and already we’ve been able to explore connections, had offers of lifts to the Memory Café, requests to join his circle and ideas about supporting Simon to play pool again.  I’m really looking forward to seeing the connections that can develop.  From Simon at the centre we can already see the development of a dementia friendly community.

Blog Oct

Alzheimers Society infographic about Dementia Friendly Communities

 

Through Community Circles, people naturally learn how to be with, gently support and connect with someone who lives with dementia, both as part of the circle and in their community too.

If you want to get involved with Community Circles, have a look at our website

www.community-circles.co.uk

 

Cath Barton

Community Circles Connector, Rochdale