Knowledge Hub Community Discussions


Learn more about the research we have done around our dementia friendly communities initiatives and how it will inform the development of a new dementia friendly knowledge hub in this guest article written by our summer student, Erica Zarazun.

A person talking to a group of people over video chat

At the Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan, we strive to engage our communities with dementia friendly initiatives to understand how each business, organization, and individual approaches them. Recently, we hosted comprehensive interviews with our federation partners and community organizations with experience with our dementia friendly initiatives to determine:

  • What a “dementia friendly community” means to our partners and stakeholders;
  • What information our partners and stakeholders find important, useful, and challenging;
  • The ways in which dementia impacts these communities;
  • What these communities envision for the future of dementia friendly communities.

The results of these interviews will inform our work on an upcoming knowledge/learning hub for dementia friendly communities. The discussions featured community organizations from Yorkton, Saskatchewan, which have been directly involved with the Dementia Supports in Rural Saskatchewan project and employees of the Alzheimer Society in Ontario.

Our interviews demonstrated a real need for the development of such a knowledge hub.

“Personally, I think there is an education gap, people are always wondering what can I do or what should I say to a person living with dementia or their care partner, how can I provide support or what are the conversation starters? I think education is key and there always needs to be those education opportunities.”

- Chelsey Johnson, Community Consultant, Parkland Valley Sport and Recreation District

“We need more public awareness about dementia because there are so many people that are impacted by dementia, but you don’t even necessarily know that the person is living with dementia. A lot of folks think that the person is just older and just having some memory issues. Also starting that education at a very young age I think is also really important.”

- Maggie Scanlon, Programs Manager of Provincial Programs and Partnerships from the Alzheimer Society of Ontario   

Another theme that was prevalent throughout our interviews was the significance of listening to the needs of people with dementia and their care partners to determine where opportunities are.

“The most important thing is to make sure that whatever you are doing is driven by the voice of people with lived experience… it is about what people with lived experience think is important.”

- Susan Oster, Public Awareness Coordinator of Southwest Partners, Alzheimer Society of Ontario.

We spoke to Dorothea Warren, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Saskatchewan Library Association (SLA), to gain an understanding of dementia friendliness on an organizational level. Dorothea defined dementia friendly as, “welcoming, accessible, and understanding what can engage and support people with dementia, which includes physical things such as how the furniture is spaced and if it is appropriate for someone with dementia in terms of design and practicality.”

Dorothea also highlighted the minor changes that can make a significant difference to someone, such as an awareness of dementia, changes to the physical environment, and opportunities in the community to grow education.

We also gained valuable insight during our interviews from:

  • Jeff Morton, Director of the Godfrey Dean Art Gallery. The Godfrey Dean Art Gallery currently has a project for people with dementia and their care partners to work with local artists and create art pieces based on their individual interests.
  • Amber Harvey, Branch Manager of the Yorkton Public Library. Amber talked to us about the library’s integrated work with the Alzheimer Society and the steps they have taken to become a community champion for dementia friendliness.

We are grateful to everyone who participated in our discussions. Each person provided a unique perspective into their experiences with dementia friendly communities and how to approach becoming more inclusive and accessible in the community. We look forward to continuing the conversation about dementia awareness in communities across Saskatchewan to help address any gaps or barriers that may be identified.

If you would like to learn more about dementia friendly communities and how you can be a part of one, please see our website:

Community Changes Everything | Alzheimer Society of Saskatchewan


Related Links: 

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.

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