Dementia: Understand Together (UT) is the second phase of a national awareness campaign running in Ireland to increase understanding of dementia among the general public. The programme is led by the Health Service Executive’s National Dementia Office, Health and Wellbeing and Communications teams, in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of Ireland and Age Friendly Cities and Counties.
UT in communities is a social movement involving individuals, organisations and community groups, who are supported to work collaboratively towards the development of dementia inclusive communities, ensuring that people living with dementia and their families are respected and connected. Extensive consultation with people living with dementia, their families and carers has underpinned the movement. Sharing their experiences through training, network events and media engagement has influenced stakeholders to be more empathetic and understanding.
There are over 300 community champions and 40+ national partners involved in the campaign. They are increasing awareness and understanding of dementia, changing services and tackling stigma. A core message of the movement is that ‘one small action can make a difference to someone with dementia’. Partners and champions bring about change through six actions:
- See the person, not the dementia
- Talk about dementia
- Stay in touch
- Ask how you can help
- Support the person to keep up hobbies and interests
- Make sure your service or space is easy to use
They are leading by their behaviours and inspiring others.
Community champions and national partners are supported through the provision of a range of resources, training and events. A recent evaluation (Galvin et al, 2020) shows positive outputs and outcomes related to the roll-out of UT in communities.