British Deaf Association (BDA) Scotland has been awarded £150,000 by the Life Changes Trust to set up a dementia friendly Deaf community.
The project, called Transforming the Deaf Dementia Experience, will identify and work with Deaf people who have dementia and their carers, enabling them to share and receive information, knowledge and experiences about living with and managing dementia through British Sign Language (BSL).
The project also aims to explore the Deaf community’s knowledge and understanding of dementia, attitudes towards those with dementia, and thoughts on where they would go for support or information.
There will also be work around reducing stigma and prejudice towards those living with dementia within the Deaf community, making it easier for Deaf people with dementia to attend and undertake activities at their local Deaf club or group.
Avril Hepner, BDA Scotland’s Community Development Manager, said: ““For some time I have been concerned about the lack of provision, care and support services for Deaf people living with dementia and their carers. I bring my experiences of caring for Jack, my father, who was Deaf and lived with Alzheimer’s. This project will enable us to develop a toolkit for carers and families with ideas and tips on coping strategies and communication strategies. Diagnosis and provision of dementia support was not accessible for my father. An education programme and BSL dementia friendly training are needed for healthcare professionals in care homes, charities, organisations and dementia friendly communities.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for Deaf people with dementia and their carers to share experiences through a common language – being in the company of others with similar experiences in a situation where they can communicate freely is vital for their health and well-being.”