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Dementia Friendly Charlotte-Mecklenburg

January 8, 2021

As Community Outreach Coordinator for ‘DFCM’, Angela recently posed some questions to Sara Maloney and Ashley Stevens its Co-Chairs


What is a Dementia Friendly Community?

  • It is a dementia friendly village, town, city, or county that is informed, safe, and respectful of individuals with dementia, their families and caregivers and provides supportive options that foster quality of life.
  • It is a relatively new concept, started in England in January 2012
  • It is the idea that all parts of the community; grocery stores, libraries, banks, transportation, anywhere, can create a better quality of life for individuals living with dementia.
  • In the United States we have a national body that recognizes Dementia Friendly Communities; Dementia Friendly America (DFA).
  • DFA formed in 2015 after a pilot initiative was successful in Minnesota, they have paved the way for Dementia Friendly communities in the US.
  • DFA provides a tool kit and technical assistance when a community wants to be recognized as dementia friendly.
  • They must meet certain criteria including:

- Connecting across sectors: DFA communities must have a team of three or more community sectors. These must include at a minimum, government, clinical, community-based organizations and people living in the community with dementia and their care partners.

- Inclusion of people living with dementia and their caregivers; it is imperative that people living with dementia shape a dementia friendly community effort

- Adoption and communication of Dementia Friendly practices and change goals. Communities must follow the step by step process to indicate how the initiative will engage in dementia friendly work.

- Progress tracking and sharing: communities report progress by providing current program description, and completing periodic surveys

What is the mission of DFCM?

“By creating community awareness, we will improve Charlotte Mecklenburg’s understanding of dementia and enhance both the lives of people living with dementia and those who care for them.

To raise awareness about dementia and transform attitudes

  • To reduce stigma
  • To reduce barriers
  • To create safe environments
  • To improve quality of life

Who is involved with DFCM?

The DFCM Steering Committee is comprised of diverse members, including government organizations, local universities, faith communities, and dementia-specific associations. We are always welcoming additional members.

What are some of the things the initiative has done/plans to do?

Following surveys and community engagement, three areas of work were identified: Awareness, Education, Improved services.

  • Awareness:

   - Awareness was the biggest need identified in Charlotte Mecklenburg

   - Around the same time as we were starting our initiative, the state of North Carolina adopted Dementia Friends

   - We decided to use Dementia Friends as our awareness tool; it is basic yet valuable information about dementia (as many of you who became Dementia Friends know)

   - We have a sub-committee in our group that holds sessions in the community and continually creates new Dementia Friends

   - Dementia Friends is an international grassroots movement and is currently offered in over 30 different countries and 20 different states in the US; which delivers a uniformed message about dementia

   - There is a running total of Dementia Friends statewide, nationwide, and internationally which can be seen on their website

  • Education and Improved Services

   - To assist with education and improved services in our county, we developed a Dementia Friendly Business Guide. Businesses that are interested in becoming a Dementia Friendly Business will walk through the guide with a team of DFCM members, create goals for change or improvement, undergo awareness sessions and additional training, and then the business can be recognized as a dementia friendly community. This recognition includes a DFCM logo emblem to place on their door and a frame of their certificate.

   - We focus on three business phases: making a commitment, making it happen, and then making it flourish

   - It took about a year to develop this detailed guide and we were in the pilot stages when COVID hit. We will have our pilot business complete soon.

How can we get involved?

DFCM meets the 3rd Thursday of the month at 2:00 pm. If interested, email Sara Maloney or Ashley Stevens at

Angela Burrow is a nurse from the UK. She now focuses on Dementia Education including Workshops for Professional and

Family Care Partners.  She is a Certified Trainer with the Learning Community for Person Centered Practice and the National Council for Certified Dementia Practitioners and holds Certification in Montessori Based Dementia Programming from Dr. Cameron Camp.

William Sweezy