As Australia's population continues to age, so too does the number of people living with dementia. It is estimated that 358,000 Australians currently live with the incurable disease, with this number expected to increase to 400,000 in the next 5 years.
Dementia is the term used to describe the symptoms of a large group of illnesses which cause a progressive decline in a person’s functioning, including a loss of memory, intellect, rationality, social skills and physical functioning. Dementia affects ageing populations the most (although aging does not cause dementia).
About the Our Place project
OurPlace is a research project using digital mapping technologies to enable people living with dementia and their carers to map the places and spaces that matter.
It will identify important places, in a number of different communities, that are used and enjoyed every day as well as those places that may present challenges. This information will also be used in both Kiama and Darwin to inform local action as part of the Dementia Friendly Kiama and Dementia Friendly Darwin projects.
Dementia-friendly Kiama Project
Located on the NSW South Coast, Kiama is a popular retirement destination, which contributes to its aging population (the fastest growing age groups in Kiama are those over 85 years and those 70-84 years). With a population of just under 13,000 people, Kiama has an estimated 1200 residents suffering from dementia.
The Kiama Municipal Council wants to make Kiama a dementia-friendly destination, so in partnership with the University of Wollogong (UOW), Alzheimer's Australia and the Kiama community, they birthed the Dementia Friendly Kiama Project. The project aims to make Kiama a dementia-friendly community by making it a place where people living with dementia are supported to live a high quality of life with meaning, purpose and value.
The first activity of the project saw researchers from UOW learning what it is like to live in Kiama for people with dementia. They undertook consultation with people living with dementia, their family members, friends or carers, people from service clubs, shopkeepers, council workers and anyone interested in making Kiama more dementia-friendly. The consultation included mapping activities to identify where dementia friendly locations are, and highlighting places that require action to make them more dementia friendly. People were asked to 'drop a pin' on areas they think are dementia-friendly and provide a comment about why they like the space and to share ideas about how to improve not-so-friendly areas.
This guided subsequent work such as:
- improving signage, access to transport, businesses and other services
- access to community activities and reduction of the stigma associated with dementia
- general community education and specialist education for local medical services and businesses
World Health Organisation Award
The World Health Organisation (WHO) recognised the ground-breaking efforts of the Kiama Council's Dementia Friendly Kiama Project by awarding it a Healthy Cities Recognition Award 2016. These Awards seek to encourage cities to continue to innovate and demonstrate effective and efficient ways of promoting and protecting the health of urban populations.
Social Pinpoint is proud that our tools are helping research on this important issue.