Laura Booi has been outspoken advocate and research for dementia related issues for the past decade. She is currently a doctoral candidate in Gerontology at Simon Fraser University. Her dissertation research is focused on sustainable ways of improving long-term, residential care for persons living with dementia from the perspective of the care aide.
On an international level, Laura also a founding member for the World Young Leaders in Dementia (WYLD). This network includes more than 300 members across six continents, the young leaders – most of whom are under the age of 39 – are mobilizing to drive forward creative new solutions for people with dementia, their care-partners and their communities.
Evaluating Dementia Inclusivity and Reducing Stigma in Retirement Communities
Background/Objective: The Ontario Retirement Communities Association (ORCA) represents 95% of the retirement community (RC) sector in Ontario. ORCA contains 610 members homes and provides accommodation and services to more than 55,000 seniors. RCs are an attractive option for aging-in-place because they allow older adults to remain independent while still receiving minimal assistance, as well as have access to activities and socialization opportunities. The average age of residents in RCs is 85 years and because of this the rates of dementia within this sector is greater than the general public. Stigma related to dementia within RC has yet to be evaluated. This present study offers preliminary findings on the state of dementia related stigma within RC as well as offering viable solutions to reducing stigma through the development and implementation of ORCA’s Dementia Inclusive Program.
Method/Overview: All aspects of this study have and will continue to involve the participation and guidance of individuals who are currently living with dementia, including the expertise from the Ontario Dementia Advisory Group.
The following research questions are guiding this study:
- What is the current state of dementia inclusivity in RCs?
- From the residents and staffs’ perspectives, what are the barriers and facilitators to dementia inclusivity?
Data generation methods include: (i) online survey; (ii) semi-structured interviews; (iii) focus groups and; (iv) naturalistic observations.
Results: A total of 320 staff members of RC completed an online dementia stigma survey. Findings reveal that almost all respondents (96.13%) believe there are residents living in their RC who currently have dementia. Most respondents (86.60%) agreed or strongly agreed that they believe dementia is a point of concern for their residents. Approximately half (51.9%) of respondents reported feeling that their communities were well equipped to support people with dementia.
Conclusion: Findings shed light on the fact that almost half of respondents expressed that they do not feel their communities are adequately equipped to support those living with dementia. The results from the stigma survey will help guide the facilitation of site visits which will include: (i) interviews; (ii) focus groups and; (iii) naturalistic observations with staff and residents in 12 RCs across Ontario. Information gained from these site visits will be used to assess the perceived barriers and facilitators to the social inclusion of residents living with dementia within RCs. With the data generated from site visits, ORCA’s Dementia Inclusive Program, an educational intervention for staff, residents and their family’s, will be created and implemented. The policies that will be developed from ORCA’s Dementia Inclusive Program will have the potential to help staff and residents in RC gain a better understanding of dementia, reduce stigma levels, enhance quality of life, improve care provision and help facilitate residents’ aging in place.