The Central Coast Dementia Alliance has formed to help create a more “dementia-friendly” community on the Coast.
The group of health workers, service providers, businesses and community representatives will work together to improve the wellbeing of people living with memory loss and dementia on the Coast, their carers and families.
Alliance chairperson Therese Greenlees, from the Hunter New England Central Coast Primary Health Network, said there were estimated to be more than 5,770 people currently living with dementia on the Coast, with the numbers projected to rise to 14,000 by 2050.
“With such a prevalence of dementia on the Coast, it is important that we raise awareness and reduce stigma; promote the ability of people living with dementia to retain their independence; and achieve excellence in healthcare and support for those people living with dementia and their carers,” Ms Greenlees said.
One of the first actions of the Alliance will be to map all the dementia services on the Coast.
“When someone first receives a diagnosis of dementia, it can be overwhelming, and we need to make it as easy as possible for them and their carers to access services,” Ms Greenlees said.
“Just knowing how to go about finding help is reassuring,” she said.
The Alliance, supported by Dementia Australia, will hold workshops for businesses, community members, and groups to help them understand how dementia and memory loss affects people and their carers. The first will be held in June.
Alliance secretariat Jodi Livesley, Commonwealth Home Support Program sector support and development, said the workshops would start a conversation about making our community more inclusive and dementia-friendly.
“We have purchased ‘toolkits’ from Dementia Australia that we will use in workshops to increase understanding of the challenges faced by people living with dementia, and how we can all be more supportive,” Ms Livesley said.
“It’s an important first step in building a more dementia-friendly community,” she said.
Westfield Tuggerah has joined the Alliance, with a view to making its shopping centre more welcoming to people living with dementia.
“Many people living with dementia and their carers visit our centre, and we want to make that experience as safe and enjoyable as it can be,” Westfield Tuggerah Centre Manager Bert Cotte said.
“Raising awareness among our staff and businesses in the centre will help us look after our customers,” he said.
“The mission statement of the Central Coast Dementia Alliance is to ‘Make Enjoying Life Easier’. This aligns well with Westfield Tuggerah’s vision to ‘Connect and Enrich’ the community in which we operate. We are proud to lead this initiative, and hope to be the catalyst for change within the business community,” Mr Cotte said.
Federal Member for Dobell Emma McBride, the patron of the Alliance, said she was heartened to see stakeholders working together.
“I lost my father recently, and having watched him live with younger onset dementia for more than five years, and helped my mother care for him, I am committed to supporting other families,” Ms McBride said.
“We have such a wealth of experience and support here on the Coast, and I am pleased that people living with dementia and their carers will also be represented on the Alliance.”
There are more than 425,000 Australians living with dementia and nearly 300,000 people involved in their care. Across Australia, there are 250 new cases every day.
The Dementia Helpline is 1800 100 500.