Wesley Community Action has become the first Methodist organisation – and one of only nine organisations around the country – to be accredited with Alzheimers New Zealand’s Dementia Friendly Award.
The accreditation means we have met all seven dementia-friendly standards which show we’re a safe, friendly, accepting, and supportive place for people with dementia.
It’s also an endorsement of the values that sit at the heart of the Te Ara Wēteriana / The Wesley Way, the framework that guides how our staff interact with each other and with the people they work alongside.
Kate MacIntyre, a member of the dementia-friendly audit team, says they were particularly impressed by how committed our staff are to working in a respectful, inclusive, kind and compassionate way – all of which are essential to being dementia friendly and are also integral to Te Te Ara Wēteriana / The Wesley Way.
“The way staff talked about The Wesley Way showed they really understood it and actually lived it, rather than it just being glossy values up on the wall,” says Kate, who is Alzheimer New Zealand’s Dementia-Friendly Coordinator.
The process to become dementia friendly began in late 2019 but was delayed by the Covid-19 lockdown. The final part of the process – physical audits of three of our sites and meetings with WCA staff and people who use our services (including people living with dementia) – took place in September.
The process was initiated and driven by Claire Booth (pictured), leader of our Elder Care Team, with support from the board and staff, most of whom have completed a short online programme to become a Dementia Friend.
Claire says that through her work with older people – particularly vulnerable older people – she has become increasingly aware of the need to do more to meet the needs of our ageing population. At present about 70,000 Kiwis live with dementia. That number is expected to increase to 170,000 by 2050. Most people with dementia – about 70% – live in the community.
“This is not a theoretical thing that will happen in the future, it’s happening now and as a nation we-are ill-equipped to deal with it. People with dementia are already living in the community and engaging with banks and post offices and utility companies, often with very little support.”
Growing resilient communities
She says being dementia friendly is particularly relevant for WCA because dementia disproportionately affects many of the communities the organisation works with – vulnerable people living in poverty. They are more likely to develop dementia and become isolated, and less likely to get access to appropriate support services and resources.
“As an organisation we’re committed to helping grow resilient communities and in order to grow resilient communities we have to start taking dementia into consideration.”
Being involved in the accreditation programme was also a way of demonstrating our commitment to inclusivity, one of the principles that underlies Te Ara Wēteriana / The Wesley Way.
Claire says the accreditation process helped highlight the fact that dementia affects everybody, including staff who may have whānau members living with dementia, or who may one day develop dementia themselves. “Being dementia friendly is just as much about how we face inwards to look after our own staff and the values we live by as an employer.”
The Dementia Friendly Recognition Programme is one of three run by Alzheimers New Zealand to help build a dementia-friendly Aotearoa New Zealand. The others are the Dementia Friends programme and the Dementia Friendly Communities Programme.
Find out more: alzheimers.org.nz