Dementia-friendly communities: challenges and strategies for achieving stakeholder involvement
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Dementia-friendly communities (DFCs) are a UK policy initiative that aims to enable people with dementia to feel supported and included within their local community. Current approaches to DFC creation rely on stakeholder involvement, often requiring volunteer assistance. There is though a lack of evidence that examines the reality of achieving this. This paper critically assesses the challenges and strategies for achieving stakeholder involvement in DFCs. The evidence base is drawn from an inter-agency project funded by the National Health Service in the South of England where seven DFCs were developed by steering group partners and four part-time project workers (PWs). Data from the independent evaluation undertaken in the first year (2013-2014) of the project were analysed: 14 semi-structured interviews and a focus group examined PWs' experiences; while progress and key milestones are determined from monthly progress forms, good news stories, locality steering group minutes and press releases. Analysis was undertaken using a directed content analysis method, whereby data content for each locality was matched to the analytical framework that was drawn from Alzheimer's Society guidance. Challenges to achieving stakeholder involvement were identified as: establishing networks and including people representative of the local community; involving people affected by dementia; and gaining commitment from organisations. Strategies for achieving stakeholder involvement were recognised as: a sustainable approach; spreading the word; and sharing of ideas. By highlighting these challenges and the approaches that have been used within communities to overcome them, these findings form the foundation for the creation of DFC initiatives that will become embedded within communities. Stakeholder involvement is unpredictable and changeable; therefore, reliance on this approach questions the long-term sustainability of DFCs, and must be considered in future policies designed to enhance quality of life for people affected by dementia.
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