Building Dementia Friendly Communities: “It’s just so AHP”

I wrote a blog a while ago called “Suffering from Brilliance” (2013) that described the “Aha!” moments that create excitement and energy in me.  And I have to say that the idea of developing dementia friendly communities created that same wonderfully familiar energetic feeling, a feeling that drives you forward and galvanises you into action.


Motherwell’s dementia friendly community initiative is now well known.  Our simple approach and easy to use tools and methodology have been picked up across Scotland, across the rest of the UK and even wider including Norway and other European countries. It has been an exciting time, talking about our work, sharing our experience and encouraging others to take up the concept and get out there!.

Why do I think that building dementia friendly communities is an AHP’s business?

The answer for me lies firmly in policy and strategy.  Current health and social care policy supports people to remain in their own homes for as long as possible, safely and confidently.  Health and social care integration demands new ways of working together.  We also find words like “coproduction”, “community capacity” and “assets based” approaches being used extensively as we work together in our new and existing partnerships.

Scotland’s National Dementia Strategy (2013), Alzheimer Scotlands Charter of Rights for People with Dementia and their Carers in Scotland (2009) emphasise the importance of citizenship, social inclusion and full participation in society. And this feels, for me, like a call to action.

Call to Action

It calls to the heart of what we as allied health professionals (AHP) believe in and aspire to achieve.  If we want to support people to live as well as they can with dementia, then it make sense that we need a community that understands and supports its citizens who are living with the disease to continue to enjoy access to mainstream community opportunities and for all of us, as citizen,  to be welcomed and understood.


If, as AHPs, we believe that our main function in the health and social care system is to promote health and wellbeing, to work alongside people and their communities to help them find ways to compensate for health problems, overcome obstacles and challenges to living an ordinary everyday life, recover function, find ways to adapt to change, to self-manage and feel empowered, valued and informed.  Then we must want to create communities around us that are resilient, caring supportive places for us all to live within.

Our Allied Health Professions Scotland Consensus Statement on Quality Service Values (2013) is designed to unite us as Allied Health Professionals so that we can contribute to integrated service delivery to achieve the 2020 Vision for Healthcare in Scotland.  The service values ask us to be compassionate in our care and leadership, work in partnership and build strong networks across a wide range of sectors.  Indeed our Allied Health Professions National Delivery Plan (2012) encourages us to create added value beyond health and deliver excellent outcomes for people who use services, their families and carers.  Specifically Action 3.2 asks us to enhance community capacity building and use assets based approaches and work in new partnerships.

“It’s just so AHP”

As an AHP I have a focus on rehabilitative and recovery based approaches.  AHPs have always supported people to achieve their goals through the development of coping strategies and compensatory techniques, identifying and building on capacity, strengths and asset and this approach underpinned our development work in a dementia friendly Motherwell.


I think being a part of building dementia friendly communities breathes life into our health and social care strategies and policies, makes them an “on the ground” reality and what AHP doesn’t want to just get out there and do something that builds on strength and capacity, that demands innovative, creative and energetic input, that supports us to work with people and communities in what matters to them.  It is what makes us tick; it describes what an AHP is and does.

Building Dementia Friendly Communities “It’s just so AHP”


We would welcome comments on this blog post, sharing your ideas of how you are developing dementia friendly communities?



“Suffering from Brilliance”

The Charter of Rights for People with Dementia and their Carers in Scotland   (2009)

Allied Health Professions Scotland Consensus Statement on Quality Service Values (2013)

Achieving Sustainable Quality in Scotland’s Healthcare – a 2020 Vision

AHPs as agents of change in health and social care: The National Delivery Plan for the Allied Health Professions in Scotland (2012)

What is a Dementia Friendly Community?  A dementia friendly community is made up of the whole community – shop assistants, public service workers, faith groups, businesses, police, fire and ambulance staff, bus drivers, school pupils, clubs and societies, and community leaders – people who are committed to working together and helping people with dementia to remain a part of their community and not become apart from it.  This involves learning a little about dementia and doing very simple and practical things that can make an enormous difference to people living with the condition. To find out more go to this web link


Sandra Shafii
AHP Dementia Consultant

My current role is to support the Allied Health Professions across Scotland to participate in and contribute to the implementation of Scotland’s National Dementia Strategies. I have a national remit for activity, participation and environment and had a key role in developing Make Every Moment Count. I have also been working with North Lanarkshire Dementia Demonstrator Site and am currently the NHS Lanarkshire Lead for the North Lanarkshire 8 Pillars Model Test Site.