Identifying Physical Barriers


A look at how the City of Yorkton is using lived experience to cultivate change.

A row of folded arena seats with one seat flipped down in the middle of the row..

The City of Yorkton, one of the collaborating organizations of the Dementia Supports in Rural Saskatchewan (DSRS) project, has demonstrated a commitment to better serving people living with dementia and their care partners by following a “nothing about us without us” approach. In the spring of 2021, they contracted a team of five individuals, which included two couples with lived experience with dementia, to audit twelve City of Yorkton facilities for physical accessibility.

The participation of these two couples is the essence of meaningful engagement – the opportunity for people living with dementia to purposefully participate in the work of an organization that represents their interests. Meaningful engagement is also a philosophy that guides the work of the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan.

“To me, ‘meaningful engagement’ means being able to actively participate. Whether it is acting as the Honorary Chair for the Walk for Memories, being on the committees developing toolkits for various programs, speaking at meetings, or with the press or simply attending a support group meeting; it is the personal involvement and interaction with others that I find to be most satisfying.”  

- Person living with dementia   

In addition to having people with lived experience with dementia contribute their skills and ideas, this audit is significant for several reasons:

  • The audit was informed by Alzheimer Society research and toolkits with the goal of identifying physical barriers that may prevent people affected by dementia from enjoying each of the twelve facilities;
  • It looked at both indoor and outdoor considerations, including navigation, signage, surfaces, seating, lighting, and access to quite areas and customer service stations;
  • The audit team role-played events and activities that typically occur in each venue, providing a more realistic view of the physical barriers that are present;
  • The work is based on the principles of accessibility, inclusion, empathy, and understanding, which parallel the values that dementia friendly communities are founded upon.

Becoming more dementia friendly is a process – a process of learning more about these principles and applying them in a way that makes sense to you, your business, and the larger community. We hope that the City of Yorkton’s story will inspire you and the members of your neighbourhood to become more aware of and inclusive towards people who are living with dementia and their care partners.

Read the results and recommendations from the City of Yorkton’s Age/Dementia Friendly Facilities Audit here.

Another example of how Yorkton, Melville, and the surrounding rural communities are embracing dementia friendliness was the turnout for the virtual DSRS Community Table held on December 3, 2021. 30 people from a rich variety of business sectors attended, including the Mayor of Yorkton, which suggests that community members in this region are recognizing the need to help people with dementia to live well. Many attendees spoke of the alignment that exists between their organizational goals and the DSRS project.

The Alzheimer Society is your first link to becoming more dementia friendly. We get to know you, your organization, your values, and goals, and provide meaningful suggestions to help make your space and social environment more accessible for people living with dementia and their care partners.

If you are interested in exploring how you can become more dementia friendly, or to request one of our Dementia Friendly Toolkits, please contact our Dementia Community Coordinator for Yorkton, Melville, and the surrounding rural communities:

Jackie Hofstrand
Dementia Community Coordinator
Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan
(306) 783-6606

[email protected]

Learning about the 10 warning signs of dementia and the importance of a timely diagnosis is another way you can help yourself and others to live well. Join us for our ABC's of Dementia presentation for Yorkton, Melville, and the surrounding rural communities:

Monday, February 28, 2022, 7:00 - 8:00pm CST

Online via Zoom

Register and find out more here.


Related Links:

Alzheimer Society Person-Centred Language Tip Sheet

Dementia Supports in Rural Saskatchewan | Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan

Dementia Supports in Rural Saskatchewan is led by the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU) at the University of Regina and is funded by the Government of Canada. 

SPHERU Project Logos