We want to drive change so that that people affected by dementia are empowered to exercise choice and control over their own lives and become active citizens in their communities. We are committed to seeing the whole person and ensuring that he or she is central to decisions that affect their life, empowered and included in their own community.
As such, our work will fall into five priority areas.
Priority 1: Enable people affected by dementia to live in a place that suits them and their needs
People with dementia live in a variety of places – in their own home either alone or with a partner or family, in a care home, and a number find that they spend periods of time in hospital. Wherever a person lives, it is important that their environment meets their health and care needs and helps them be as independent as possible. Care homes and hospitals must also ensure that they are ‘dementia friendly’. People affected by dementia are also part of wider communities, and it is critical that they are enabled to remain active within, and contribute to, their communities.
Priority 2: Protect and promote the independence of people affected by dementia
Dementia causes impairments that can lead to people withdrawing from day-to-day activities and routines. Lack of independence can also lead to isolation and loneliness for both the person who has dementia and those who care for them, which can affect mental well-being and can lead to depression. Maintaining independence is vital to sustaining a good quality of life for both parties and it is important that building confidence and supporting independence are explored early. It is also important that people in general are made aware of evidence about the potential benefits of making healthy life choices in preventing diseases that can lead to dementia.
Priority 3: Support work that will guarantee that people affected by dementia get the help they need when they need it
People affected by dementia often encounter a maze of systems and services with which they must interact in order to get the help they need, which can delay access to support. Our systems, processes, ‘pathways’ and services in Scotland need to become more ‘people-shaped’ so that they fit the real needs of people with dementia and carers.
Priority 4: Create a culture in Scotland where people affected by dementia feel safe, listened to, valued and respected
There are particular challenges for those who already experience discrimination and marginalisation due to, for example, their race or religion, disability or sexual orientation. We must not treat people with dementia as a group apart – they are the people who raised us, taught us, cared for us and kept us safe, and we have a duty to do the same. They have a right to be treated with dignity and respect.
Priority 5: Empower people affected by dementia so that they can do the things that are important to them
People who live with dementia want to continue living life to the full for as long as possible – thriving, growing, developing and learning. They also want to live their life and not a life imposed upon them by dementia. This is easier to do if a person has the resources they need: money, a ‘circle of support’ and the ability to shape services and other initiatives that will empower them.
We will know that there has been progress when people affected by dementia can talk about a better quality of life and sense of well-being, and when they can say:
- I live in a place that suits me and my needs
- I am able to be as independent as possible
- I get the help I need when I need it
- I feel safe, listened to, valued and respected
- I am empowered to do the things that are important to me
This evidence will be gathered directly from people with dementia and carers, fed back to us by people who are in day-to-day contact with people with dementia and carers, or it may come through research.