The Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society hosted Alzheimer Society of BC “Dementia Friends” pilot training workshop held on February 15 at the Nikkei Centre. A group of 43 participants from our Nikkei community and the greater community took part in the training program to be informed on the nature and characteristics of dementia and how to help those persons living with this disease.
The presenters from the Alzheimer Society who developed and led the workshop were Rebecca Morris (Advocacy Analyst, Advocacy & Education Department) and Maria Przydatek (Research Analyst).
There are over 70,000 people in British Columbia living with dementia today, and around 40,000 live in their homes. By the time a person reaches the age of 90, there is a 50% chance that the person will be living with dementia. When everyone is dementia-friendly, it helps to make life easier for those persons living with dementia, their caregivers and the support networks.
The workshop was well-received and we’re hoping that soon, there will be more of these workshops offered. Many thanks to the Alzheimer Society of BC for taking on the leadership role in making communities dementia-friendly.
The Dementia Friends workshop is part of the Alzheimer Society of BC Dementia-Friendly Communities initiative for which the Nikkei Seniors Health Care and Housing Society is contributing through the provincial advisory committee. According to the initiative’s reference, a dementia-friendly community is “a cohesive system of support that recognises the experiences of the person with dementia and best provides assistance for the person to remain engaged in everyday life in a meaningful way” (Davis, Byers, Nay & Koch, 2009). The initiative involves various organizations, sectors and cities throughout the province in promoting dementia-friendly training, public space design and policies.
The Dementia Friends workshop is part of the effort in improving understanding of dementia among the general public as well as professionals in the community such as paramedics and staff at banks and stores. The Dementia Friends training was inspired by the dementia education program of the same name implemented in the UK which itself was inspired by a similar program in Japan called Caravan. Today over 1 million people in the UK and 5.8 million people in Japan have attended the workshop and become a “dementia friend”. The journey has just begun in BC. The Dementia Friends workshop developed by the Alzheimer Society of BC is currently being piloted, feedback is being collected from its participants and improvements are being made before its province-wide official launch later this year.
Written by Tom Teranishi
Translation by Toshiko Oshima
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