Members of the Interagency Tralee Dementia Friendly Group at the launch of the Tralee Dementia Information card
Tralee has opened its arms wide for its citizens and visitors living with dementia, becoming an official dementia-friendly town.
A group was formed in the Kerry town to promote awareness of dementia and to support businesses in their interactions with people with dementia and memory deficits. The project goes hand in hand with the aims of the Age-Friendly Strategy for the county.
Nationally, there are approximately 55,000 people living with dementia in Ireland with currently 11 people diagnosed per day. The Understand Together website (www.understandtogether.ie), which promotes public support awareness and information, advocates that local communities create inclusive environments where people with dementia are understood, respected and valued; can stay socially connected and actively engaged in community life; can access local businesses and amenities that are responsive to their needs and can navigate the built environment with ease
Dementia awareness training was provided in Tralee back in May and following the positive feedback from this, the Tralee Dementia Friendly Community Interagency group was formed. The group is a collaboration between the HSE (National Office for Services for Older Persons and Community Work Department) with voluntary and statutory agencies in Tralee including the banking sector, Kerry County Council, Garda Siochana, the educational sector and local GAA members. Family members and local older person groups are also represented in the group.
One of the first initiatives undertaken by the group was to produce a ‘Tips for friends/neighbours and businesses’ wallet-size card which provides practical tips and advice for the public and businesses.
The card was officially launched by Michael Fitzgerald, HSE Assistant National Director, Older People, and Palliative Care Strategy, at the end of November 2019 and has been distributed throughout businesses in Tralee and relevant public settings in the town.
The information card is a great practical way of raising awareness of dementia and facilitating both the public and business staff to continue to assist people with dementia. The card acts as a reminder of the importance of maintaining links with carers and family members and the role that we as friends and neighbours play in ensuring both the person with dementia and their families are helped to maintain and contribute to an active life in their community.
The card, which is compliant with adult literacy guidelines, ensures it is user-friendly to all and opens the conversation amongst everyone as to what we can do to support people with memory deficits and dementia to remain living independently and safely in their communities.
Some of the tips and advice in the wallet-sized card include: ‘Remember a visit can often give the carer a little time to themselves.’ It also suggests that; ‘With your help, people with dementia can continue to take part in their local communities. They can go to a GAA match, an ICA meeting, sing in a choir, or whatever they like doing.’
Some of the business tips include: ‘Be aware of the environment as background noise can affect communication. A quiet space may be needed for the person to work in” and further to ‘consider having a no-hurry check out or queue.’
The Tralee Interagency group are currently organising further dementia awareness training for the retail and business sector in Tralee. The group hopes to learn from the experience of other towns in Ireland who have undertaken similar projects and will continue to roll out further initiatives in 2020.
“The Dementia-Friendly Forum encourages everyone to share responsibility for ensuring that people with dementia feel understood, valued and able to contribute to their community. The forum demonstrates an excellent model of partnership and collaboration and indicates to locals, new residents and visitors that Tralee as a dementia-friendly community is welcoming place in which to connect with others and do business,” said Eibhlis Cahalane from the Services for Older People and Palliative Care Strategy.
For further information on the project, please contact Dolores.McElligott@hse.ie or Eibhlis.Cahalane@hse.ie