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The Calgary Fire Department is working with The Brenda Strafford Foundation to provide front-line dementia training to first responders in an innovative partnership established through the Dementia Friendly Communities initiative.
Special training for firefighters at Station 29 in Coach Hill was delivered as part of the Dementia Friendly Communities pilot project underway in Calgary Westhills. In addition, Dementia awareness training will also be provided to all Calgary firefighters in February and March 2018 through an online training module.
“The training helps firefighters develop awareness of what life is like with dementia through experiential learning,” says Derek Arthurs, Community Safety Officer at the Calgary Fire Department.
“It helps participants develop new skills to support people with dementia more effectively so that firefighters can better support our city`s vulnerable populations.”
As the population ages, more and more Canadians will be affected by dementia. In 2011 alone, there were 750,000 Canadians affected by dementia. By 2031, this is expected to rise to 1.4 million. First responders will play an important role in keeping those living with dementia safe and able to reside in their homes and communities for longer periods.
“Research tells us that Dementia Friendly Communities help people impacted by dementia and their caregivers feel included, safe and supported in the places where they work, live and socialize,” says Navjot Virk, Research and Innovative Practice Coordinator at The Brenda Strafford Foundation.
“Through community outreach initiatives, we can educate others about dementia and increase understanding that a person with dementia may sometimes experience the world differently.”
The Brenda Stafford Foundation’s Dementia Friendly Communities Project is aimed at creating supportive communities to help seniors living with dementia stay longer in their homes, as well as raise awareness and understanding to reduce stigma associated with dementia. A toolkit is being created to support the spread of Dementia Friendly Communities throughout the province. It is funded by Alberta Seniors and Housing, Alberta Innovates, Alberta Health Services and The Brenda Strafford Foundation.