Towards a Dementia Friendly Ireland

Nearly 50,000 people in Ireland are living with dementia, and every year another 4,000 are diagnosed – 11 new people every day. There are also more than 50,000 people in Ireland who are caring for someone with dementia – and a great multiple of that when counting all of their wider family and social networks. By 2036, the number of people living with dementia will have increased to over 100,000.

The Health Services, in partnership with Atlantic Philanthropies, the Alzheimer’s Society of Ireland, academics and dementia experts, the wider health, pharmacy, community, and potentially the retail and banking sectors, wish to develop and implement a nationwide support movement for people with dementia and their carers. This campaign is one of the six programmes underway to implement the National Dementia Strategy.

What are the problems we want to address with this campaign?

While the experience of Dementia as a progressive illness is a challenge which must be faced by many, we know that developing a greater sensitivity in our communities and society to the needs and challenges of people with dementia and their loved ones can act as a support, in what is a very difficult and often isolating time. 

Increased knowledge and understanding could also support people to feel less fear of diagnosis, seek advice and help at an earlier stage, improving their experience and increasing inclusion.  Finally, if we can improve understanding of dementia, and what causes it, we can also help to promote simple preventative measures for everyone in our society.

In people with dementia and their families, the lack of understanding and information, combined with stigma, leads to:
Delays in people or families seeking support for symptoms
Delays or late diagnosis
Low levels of help-seeking Increased fear and hopelessness

In our community, the lack of understanding and information, combined with stigma, leads to:
Avoidance of people with dementia and their families
Assumptions about lack of ability to take part in normal life
Exclusion from community living
Diminished quality of life for people with dementia and their family.

In our own lives, there are many steps that can be taken to help maintain our health and wellbeing, including helping to prevent the development of dementia.  The following are protective factors for dementia, but also many other debilitating chronic illnesses:
Self-care, Being physically active, Keeping a healthy weight, Maintaining good mental health and wellbeing, Not smoking, Good brain health and lifelong learning

The focus of this campaign will be to start to counteract the negative effects outlined above through information and education on a national, community and personal level.  The aim is to counter the impact of stigma and lack of understanding, so that our whole community can live well together, with support, empathy - and care when needed.

We are currently in the later planning stages of the campaign, having completed a significant research programme during late 2015 and early 2016.  Part of our planning steps includes a Sounding Board event, which will take place on Tuesday, June 14th, 2016.  This event will be attended by a wide range of people, including people with dementia and their family and friends, health professionals, community groups, and representatives from across our civil society. The event will showcase the research completed, and seek wider participation in the development and launch of the campaign, which is planned for September 2016.

Read more about the Dementia Friendly Ireland Planning Event on June 14th

For more information on our campaign, please contact us:

Dementia Friendly Ireland Steering Group
Chairperson: Prof. Brian Lawlor
Campaign Manager: Nicola Donnelly
HSE Communications, Room 2.43, Dr Steevens' Hospital, Dublin 8
Tel 01 635 2180
Email nicola.donnelly1@hse.ie