Thursday, July 25, 2024

Sydney council applauded for dementia-friendly efforts

City of Canterbury-Bankstown Council’s Dementia Alliance began life as a small idea with a big vision – to create a dementia-friendly City and break down stigmas around the disease.

Three years on, the Dementia Alliance has supported thousands in the community, and has been recognised with a top honour at the NSW Local Government 2024 Excellence Awards.

The Alliance was awarded the ‘Community Development Award – population over 150,000’ for its work in supporting culturally and linguistically diverse people living with dementia and their families and carers.

Council’s Community Development Officer – Ageing, Sandra Loyola-Sandoval, accepted the award on behalf of the Alliance and said she was extremely humbled and proud.

“I could not believe that a tiny little idea, sparked from a conference I attended, has been able to support so many people in our community,” Ms Loyola-Sandoval said.

“In 2020, I was very lucky to hear Dr Diana Karamacoska from the University of Western Sydney speak about how dementia is going to affect South Western Sydney.

“There’s approximately 8,000 people living with dementia in Canterbury-Bankstown and those figures are expected to double by 2050 without a cure.

“I was shocked by the data so I approached her [Dr Karamacoska], and we spoke about how great it would be to start an alliance in Canterbury-Bankstown. That’s how it all began!”

The Alliance is a Council-led initiative, co-convened with Western Sydney University and made up of 12 members from community organisations, dementia care groups and people with lived experience.

The Alliance has supported the development of several initiatives in the City including Memory Cafés, multilingual dementia awareness information sessions and a dementia risk reduction and wellbeing expo – all targeted at people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.

“One of the things that dementia can do, is revert you back to your mother tongue,” Ms Loyola-Sandoval said.

“We live in a very multicultural community and in raising awareness, we must connect with people from different language groups.

“We’ve engaged bilingual advocates and reached people from Arabic, Vietnamese, Cantonese, Mandarin and Greek speaking backgrounds.”

Sharing their experience of working with Culturally and Linguistically Diverse people with dementia, the Alliance presented at an International Alzheimer’s Conference in Amsterdam last year.

It has also assisted several Council staff members in undertaking Dementia Australia training and becoming certified “dementia friends” across the City.

Mayor, Bilal El-Hayek said the Dementia Alliance is leading the way for culturally inclusive dementia research and initiatives.

“I would like to congratulate Sandra and all the members of the Dementia Alliance for their incredible efforts in fostering a dementia-friendly City,” Mayor El-Hayek said.

“This award is a testimony to all your hard work and advocacy.”

To learn more about the Canterbury-Bankstown Dementia Alliance, visit cb.city/DementiaAlliance.

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