A dementia-inclusive community is one that is committed to working together to promote a better understanding of dementia, reduce stigma, raise public awareness and to facilitate social inclusion and participation within a community.

Dementia is a progressive disease, meaning that symptoms inevitably worsen with time. These symptoms can include memory loss, difficulty processing thought, trouble problem-solving and language, and even changes in mood or behaviour. There are currently over 747,000 Canadians living with some form of dementia. By fostering a dementia-inclusive environment, all retirement communities can support their residents to age in place.

ORCA’s Dementia-Inclusive Initiative began in fall 2016 with the development of a task force led by Dr. Laura Booi. Supported by funding from the Centre for Aging and Brain Health Innovation and sponsored by PointClickCare, ORCA became one of the first organizations in the retirement communities sector to join this international movement.

The following spring, ORCA conducted a survey of members on the level of dementia stigma found within retirement communities. In early 2018, with the help of subject matter experts and ORCA’s Dementia Task Force, resources were developed to pilot the initiative, including educational tutorials for retirement home operators and staff. Other resources include:

  • The “I’m Olive” video, depicting a day in the life of a retirement community resident living well with dementia;
  • Two e-learning modules to educate frontline staff: “About Dementia Inclusivity” and “Breaking Barriers”;
  • A Dementia-Inclusive Initiative Guide providing insight into stigma surrounding dementia, frameworks for understanding it, and how to support residents living with dementia; and
  • A Dementia-Inclusive Reflection Checklist, designed to initiate discussions on whether current practices and services in a retirement community reflect an environment that is dementia-inclusive.

The pilot project saw participation by 169 staff from 30 retirement communities in Ontario, and two additional communities outside of the province. Based on the results of this pilot project, ORCA will continue to evolve the initiative in all retirement communities in Ontario and nationally. For more information on this initiative, please contact info@orcaretirement.com.