5 tips for making dementia friendly churches

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Are you part of a church or faith organisation? Do you want to reach out to and support those living with and affected by dementia? Not sure where to start?!

Below are our 5 top tips to help you and your church start being dementia friendly:

  1. Encourage your congregation to become Dementia Friends. Knowledge and understanding are integral to being ‘friendly’ towards any person or circumstance. After attending a 1 hour Dementia Friends session, people will  know some basic facts about dementia and be encouraged to think about how they can put their knowledge into action. You can find out about Dementia Friends here, or Bright Shadow can deliver a session free of charge if you are in the East Kent area (this session is also available to everyone as part of the Creative Congregations package).
  2. Encourage home visits. Supportive relationships and community can be vital to living well with dementia. However, people with dementia and their carers can easily become isolated- getting out of the house may be more challenging, and people may stop visiting due to stigma, or fear of not knowing what to say. To help create conversation and find things to do on a visit, why not use one of Bright Shadow’s Bright Ideas activity sheets for inspiration
  3. Encourage people with dementia to take part in your regular worship activities. Do this by simply asking people with dementia and their carers if there are any small changes you could make that would enable them to feel comfortable and participate along with the rest of your church congregation. They are the experts after all! It might be as simple as having clearer signs on doors, different coloured mats on the floor, or having seats reserved in a particular place.
  4. Encourage your church’s creativity and run specific dementia inclusive services. For example, you could use creativity to put on an Easter service specifically for people with dementia and their families. You might need to change the format, add in some sensory stimuli and be more participatory. For help in doing this, consider bringing Bright Shadow’s Creative Congregations training and equipping programme to your church or diocese.
  5. Encourage Carers. Whilst doctors, social workers and health care professionals are focused on the person with a diagnosis, the carer is often overlooked. The physical and emotional cost of caring for a loved one with dementia can be huge. Church communities are well placed to provide love and care for people who could be neglecting self-care as they look after someone else. A telephone call, coffee invite or genuine conversation on a Sunday morning could make a big difference.

For people who would like to go one step further and not only build dementia friendly churches, but dementia inclusive churches, Bright Shadow have developed Creative Congregations, a training and equipping programme for churches and faith organisations. Our vision is to see churches and faith organisations equipped to effectively put their faith into action by loving people with dementia and their carers well. This means enabling people to build and maintain relationships, express their faith and for those outside of church communities to be made welcome served by them, not just on Sunday mornings. For more information, please visit our Creative Congregations page, and start building your dementia inclusive church today.