From Policy to Practice

By: Justine Mc Govern  

This study synthesizes research and practice literature on dementia friendly communities in the context of U.S. dementia policy aimed at meeting needs in an increasingly diverse society. Beyond identifying strengths and challenges of the community-based, person-centered care model, the paper articulates steps to extend the reach of the model to larger, heterogeneous settings. These include increasing funding for research evaluating the model, promoting practice aimed at reducing social isolation among diverse older adults living with dementia, and fostering collaborations between urban design, public health, and the health and helping professions. By increasing awareness about dementia and supporting community-dwelling persons living with dementia in concrete ways, dementia friendly communities, a low-cost community-based, person-centered care model that originated in the U.K., can have a significant impact across quality of life markers, such as social support, access to neighborhood resources, and more, which benefits to the general community. However, while the model is gaining traction, gaps in knowledge and practice persist. Specifically, with no definitive evaluation tools, little is known about the model's outcomes, especially for persons living with dementia. Even less is known about how the model can be integrated into diverse communities affected by racial and ethnic disparities affecting health and social outcomes, such as those found in major urban areas in the U.S. Until these gaps are filled, dementia practice cannot claim to fulfill the promise of current U.S. dementia policy, which aims to reduce racial and ethnic disparities affecting social and health outcomes of diverse individuals living with dementia.

Dementia, U.S Dementia Policy, Community Practice, Diversity
Public Policy and Public Perspectives on Aging
Paper Presentation in a Themed Session

Justine Mc Govern

Assistant professor, Social Work, City University of New York, Lehman College, United States
New York, United States