49. Age Friendly Dublin City University / Dementia Elevator, Ireland

Where: Dublin, Ireland

Who is involved: Dublin City University (DCU) and the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). The initiative has the backing of Alzheimer’s Society Ireland and is supported by Atlantic Philanthropies.

Nature of activity: ‘Dementia Elevator’ is an education and empowerment programme developed by DCU and the HSE to help individuals, communities and health systems engage appropriately with people with dementia.

Elevator focuses on ability (rather than disability) and takes a person-centred approach to dementia care. The main aims of the programme are to improve quality of life and achieve ageing in place for people with dementia, by providing the right supports and skills within local communities.

‘Dementia Elevator’ is taking place in the context of an age-friendly university. In 2012 Dublin City University became the first third-level institution to adopt the concept and principles of an Age-Friendly University. Dublin City University has scrutinised its campus to make the environment more dementia-friendly and commenced a communication strategy to see how staff and the student body are affected by dementia and what can be done to make life easier. It runs a public facing clinic called ‘memory works’ designed to help people make sense of their memory problems and cope better with the impact of these on their lives.

In the autumn of 2015 the University hosted the first international age-friendly universities conference in collaboration with their international partners, Arizona State University and Strathclyde University.

A ‘DCU Elevator Award for Innovation in Dementia’ was established by the Dementia Elevator programme at DCU to highlight initiatives from around the country that contribute in a meaningful and significant way to the everyday lives of people with by dementia. The first winner of this award was a community choir set up in Naas for people with dementia and their carers. The winning proposal was developed by Kildare Liaison and Social Service (KLASS) in response to feedback from carers about the growing demands placed upon them and the associated physical and mental health impact. The KLASS community choir aims to provide social support for carers, not just amongst their peers, but also from a team of interested, volunteering professionals. It offers an enjoyable, creative and fun activity for both carers and the individuals with dementia they care for, while simultaneously offering support activities specifically aimed at carers. An award of €1000 will now allow KLASS to develop their idea.

The Elevator project works closely with dementia-friendly counties to develop and disseminate training to where it is most required. “Fear and stigma are the biggest barriers.”

Website: Dementia Elevator http://dementiaelevator.ie/. Visit the website http://dementiaelevator.ie/#dementia_video to watch an explanatory video.