HSE and partners are calling people, businesses and groups all over Ireland to get involved in making their community dementia inclusive
Sign up at www.understandtogether.ie/get-involved
Today (Tuesday, 28th March 2023), the HSE led ‘Dementia: Understand Together’ campaign launches its new community symbol to support people living with dementia and their families. Displaying the symbol sends an important message that you are supporting people with dementia.
Almost half of Irish people say they know or have known someone living with dementia. There are approximately 64,000 people living with the condition and this is set to increase considerably which means that more and more of us will be affected by dementia in our lifetime.
Hundreds of community champions, local groups and partner organisations ranging from retail, transport, banking, health and the voluntary and community sector are all taking action to create dementia inclusive communities. Our research* shows that people know more about dementia and are more empathetic of people living with the condition compared with only a few years ago. Attitudes are changing. Yet, we know that misunderstanding of the condition still exists and social isolation is often more likely for a person with dementia.
The HSE and its partners are calling for more people to get involved and to join the many people and businesses across Ireland who are already taking action. We know that simple things like staying in touch with a friend or family, supporting someone to keep doing the things they enjoy or making a small change in your business that means a person can use a service independently can make a big difference to the life of someone living with dementia.
People and organisations can learn more about the campaign and sign up to get involved at www.understandtogether.ie/get-involved
Launching the symbol, Mary Butler, TD., Minister for Older People and Mental Health said: “This community symbol was developed with people living with dementia at its heart and it’s great to see the integral work of the ‘Dementia: Understand Together’ campaign, coming to fruition here today with its launch.
“I am also delighted to see a large number of organisations already supporting this symbol and I would encourage more people to come on board. By being more aware of dementia, taking up training and using the symbol on shop fronts, windows, websites, newsletters and social media platforms, it shows your commitment to becoming dementia inclusive.”
Kathleen Farrell, member of the Irish Dementia Working Group describes what this means to her: “I am delighted to be involved in developing this symbol and I am looking forward to seeing it when I am out and about. It is very supportive to think that businesses and communities are making changes that mean I can continue to do the things I enjoy and stay connected in my community. Being able to travel and attend appointments or use my bank is very important to me and it sends a strong message that I am a valued and respected member of my communities. Living with dementia is a new life but you have got to embrace it.”
Sean O’Dowd, Consultant Neurologist and Clinical Lead for the HSE National Dementia Office explained: “It is wonderful to see so many people and organisations embracing this new community symbol. Social isolation is often more likely with a person with dementia. Staying socially active and engaged in their communities can help in many ways.
“As well as slowing the progression of dementia, it can positively affect a person’s mood and overall health and well-being. Seeing this symbol displayed and people’s commitment to learn more about the condition, will help people with dementia to retain some independence and routine and feel more open to new opportunities.”
Janette Dwyer, Assistant National Director, HSE Services for Older People, Change & Innovation said: “This new initiative represents positive support for people with dementia, helping them to feel considered and seen in their own communities. I am delighted with the response to this and we will continue to work closely with new and existing partners and champions to build communities that are inclusive of everyone.
“We would like to see the symbol displayed across the country and for people to get behind this movement, which aims to build understanding and show that we all stand together with people with dementia and their families.
“By ‘Understanding Together’, we can make a difference and support people with dementia in our communities to stay connected and included.”
To find out more, check out training opportunities or to order materials, please visit www.understandtogether.ie/get-involved.
Last updated on: 28 / 03 / 2023