The Alzheimer Society of Ontario (ASO) has launched the Blue Umbrella (BU) program to create dementia-friendly business practices; the program consists of training for staff at local businesses in an effort to create Dementia-Friendly Communities (DFC). A DFC is a place where people understand the experience of living with dementia; it includes individuals living with dementia, and encourages and supports their independence. A DFC values the contributions of people living with dementia. The BU program aims to “create a dementia-friendly business/service sector that is inclusive of people living with dementia and care partners, within which people living with dementia are active and engaged, and provided with appropriate supports.” The Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program (MAREP) evaluated the pilot program in three regions of Ontario, finding that the BU program served to better include people with dementia in the community through participating in the training as well as through customer experience. The businesses that underwent training responded positively, improving their communication skills and awareness in order to provide the best possible customer experience for individuals with dementia. MAREP recommends that the ASO implement guidelines for putting together an advisory group and giving businesses enough time to change their practices before being evaluated in the future. Further research is needed to determine “the extent to which, and in what ways, the program empowers people living with dementia to remain active and engaged in their community.” The ASO hopes to implement the BU program all across Ontario.
DATE RETRIEVED: August 4, 2017