What makes a community dementia friendly?

MoU signing with City of Macau China. Back row: Dr Bill Zeng, Associate Professor of Kiang Wu Nursing College; Dr Alvis Lo, Advisor for the Secretary of Social Affairs and Culture of Macau Government; Ian Sherriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at the University of Plymouth; Professor Rob Sneyd, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry; Ioc Han So, Deputy Director of the Health Bureau of the Macau Government; and Professor Simon Payne, Deputy Vice-Chancellor

The University of Plymouth is furthering its world-leading work in dementia support after signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the City of Macau in China.

The parties celebrate the signing as the UK marks Dementia Action Week from 21–27 May.

Among the objectives, the document outlined the parties’ commitment to exploring transfer opportunities in health and social care expertise and personnel, and identifying the parameters of what makes a community dementia-friendly.

Ioc Han So, Deputy Director of the Health Bureau of the Macau Government, signed the document at Elliot Terrace alongside Professor Rob Sneyd, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, and Professor Simon Payne, Deputy Vice-Chancellor International and Development at the University of Plymouth.

Representatives from Macau health and social care have maintained an interest in Plymouth’s work for a number of years, after the formation of the Plymouth Dementia Action Alliance in the city in 2011 – spearheaded by Ian Sherriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia at the University of Plymouth. The Alliance works with organisations throughout the city to research and implement the most effective support for people with dementia and their carers.

University staff and students are also members of the Prime Minister’s Dementia Air Transport Group and are investigating how flying experiences can be improved for people with dementia and their carers.

The MoU was officially signed between The University of Plymouth and The Health Bureau of the Government of Macau Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.

As part of their visit, the delegation also met with ministers in London, Plymouth councillors, and charity representatives influential in the healthcare sector.

Ms So said: 

“The University of Plymouth has an outstanding reputation for its dementia care expertise and we are pleased that we have been able to partner with them in this way. We hope this will be a mutually beneficial collaboration, so Plymouth’s knowledge can enhance what we do in dementia care, but we also can provide opportunities for staff and students in the UK. We had a great visit to the city and look forward to coming back again soon.”
Professor Payne said: 

“The MoU marks a great opportunity for knowledge exchange across continents, and we are pleased that this partnership will also create opportunities for students and staff in both countries. Plymouth prides itself on high-class research and making a real-world difference, so to see the University and wider city recognised at international level for its work in dementia care is brilliant.”
Mr Sherriff said: 

“The term ‘dementia-friendly’ is used quite often in Plymouth, but we’re still exploring what it really means for an organisation, city or person to be able to use it. Partnering up with Macau in this way will help us investigate further, and we can help put together a list of objectives for communities to use around the world. We have also recently set up an International Network, in which Macau plays a key role, and we video call regularly to share ideas and best practice. Dementia is a worldwide issue and to see organisations taking it seriously and committing to helping people is a significant step in ensuring the best support possible is offered to those who need it.”

Ian Sherriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia, said:

While we are proud of what we have achieved so far, we are all aware that there is more to do – support from the highest levels and the continued efforts of innovators in the lab, in clinic and in society will help us to tackle this pernicious disease

Read more about Ian Sherriff