Key messages

  • Dementia-inclusive communities are an essential part of an age-friendly Victoria.
  • The World Health Organization’s checklist of essential features of age-friendly cities also relates to people with dementia and their carers.
  • The Indigo Health Consortium in partnership with others is conducting a dementia-inclusive community project based on a person-centred approach that will help to educate other communities about being dementia-inclusive.
  • Local governments are well placed to incorporate many features in their usual maintenance, urban planning and local events.

A dementia-inclusive community in action

Dementia-inclusive communities allow people with dementia and their carers to:

  • optimise their health and wellbeing for as long as possible in familiar environments and with familiar routines
  • live as independently as possible and continue to be part of their community
  • be understood and given support
  • safely find their way around
  • access familiar local facilities, such as banks, shops, cafes, post office and cinema
  • maintain or expand their social contacts and networks.

Essential features

The World Health Organization has identified a checklist of essential features of age-friendly cities. These features also relate to people with dementia and their carers:

  • outdoor spaces and buildings
  • transport
  • housing
  • social participation
  • respect and social inclusion
  • civic participation and employment
  • communication and information
  • health and social care services.

Examples of dementia-inclusive features include:

  • clear signage that is easy to read from a distance
  • seats along walkways so people can rest if they wish
  • uncluttered wide walkways with minimal surface pattern (see the Creating dementia friendly communities checklist)
  • contrasting colours in the public toilets so people can easily see the toilet seat, the floor, the wall and the door. For tips on creating dementia-friendly toilets, see Dementia friendly environments: a guide for residential aged care services.

The Beechworth Changing Minds project

The Indigo Health Consortium is conducting a dementia-inclusive community project in Beechworth to support people’s health and wellbeing through connection to their local community. The consortium is made up of Beechworth Health Service, Indigo North Health, Indigo Shire Council and Yackandandah Health.

The project, called Changing Minds, is a joint initiative of the department through the Municipal Association of Victoria, Alzheimer’s Australia, Charles Sturt University and Indigo Health Consortium. Changing Minds aims to:

  • consult local residents with dementia and their supporters
  • support people with dementia and their carers to stay engaged and connected in their local community
  • make the physical environment, social engagement opportunities, and information more accessible
  • educate the community about dementia and what they can do to help
  • get local organisations working together in new ways
  • allocate local resources to help people to live well.

Changing Minds aims to develop a local dementia action plan for the town and surrounds, a local dementia alliance and local partnerships, support networks for people with dementia and their carers, and a community education program. Other councils and organisations will be able to learn from the Beechworth experience.