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Diocese of Sheffield

The Diocese of Sheffield comprises of parishes from across many parts of South Yorkshire (Doncaster, Rotherham, Barnsley, Sheffield) and East Riding e.g. Goole. Parish churches are important within communities and can offer the following: Helping to meet the spiritual and pastoral needs of people with, and affected by, dementia in such ways as: • Listening and getting alongside people with dementia and those who care for them • Helping people to attend church services and activities and be supported when there • Offering Communion, prayer and spiritual fellowship at home or in residential care • Helping with practical tasks that can lighten the load • Ensuring people with dementia and their carers feel welcome at church and feel part of the church community

11 August 2014
Yorkshire and Humber
Faith Groups
Local Alliances:
Barnsley Dementia Action Alliance, Doncaster Dementia Action Alliance, Rotherham Dementia Action Alliance, Sheffield Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists seven outcomes that the DAA are seeking to achieve for people with dementia and their carers. How would you describe your organisation’s role in delivering better outcomes for people with dementia and their carers?

Christian Faith proclaims God the Creator’s inclusive love for all people and Jesus, in his earthly life showed a particular care and compassion for those on the margins of society. Christ himself modelled the importance of this in his own life on earth and has set the pattern which all Christians seek to follow.  God does not value people according to their memory and intellectual skills but loves each one of us unconditionally.  

All people, whether cognitively impaired or not, are God’s children and his treasured possessions.  It is; therefore, very important that people with dementia are affirmed and treated with dignity and compassion within His Church and Kingdom. The Church should value the contribution which all people bring to the life of their communities.

Parish churches are key links in local communities and have valuable resources:

  • Buildings that can be used for events and support groups
  • Networking and awareness raising potential
  • People with a range of skills and experiences to draw upon
  • Working with those of other Christian traditions and other faiths to support a cross section of people with dementia and their carers
  • Knowledge and relations with residential and nursing homes in their community
  • Links with local voluntary groups and businesses , facilitating and encouraging partnership working to provide wrap round services to local people
  • Challenging social justice issues e.g. access to health and door step crime.

2. What are the challenges to delivering these outcomes from the perspective of your organisation?

Dementia continues to be surrounded by fears and stigmas which create significant barriers to awareness, communication and engagement with the issues

•              Dementia is regarded with fear, even dread, by many.

•              Some people are able to adapt and find fulfilment in caring and supporting, but others are left with very difficult feelings relating to fear, grief and inadequacy which are a barrier to engagement and can give rise to defensive or dismissive attitudes and a tendency to ‘fall away’ from those who need help. 

•              The stigma surrounding dementia also means that those who are affected, both the person and the carer, often feel embarrassed and ashamed and do not want to step forward to say they need help and support.  The process of encouraging people to come forward and get help, therefore, is also complex and needs to be handled with sensitivity and care.

•              There are realistic expectations on how much care and support people within congregations can provide; support of people with dementia, therefore, must compete with other needs within congregations and communities. 

  • Working with other voluntary groups can be difficult due to a gaps/duplication in services, competition for scarce resource, past experiences etc, the church can help facilitate communities working together for good and resolve conflict

2. Actions

  • Training

    • Signpost existing training basic level of awareness, Dementia Friends (1 hr) or Dementia Champions (1 day) co-ordinated by Alzheimer’s’ Society and available free to anyone.
    • Dementia group to facilitate up to a full day of training- half a day pastoral training and half a day, more about dementia ( adapted from carers training)
    • To encourage and promote of dementia friends/champions/pastoral training and dementia group to keep a register of those who have received pastoral training in this area.
    • To encourage champions from faith groups to work together ecumenically to be involved in the local alliances and work towards dementia friendly communities
    • Dementia volunteers, friends and champions will be working with vulnerable adults and so will need to comply with diocesan safeguarding policies.
    • To support and facilitate dementia related training and resources for Godly play through the Godly play UK network.
  • Support to Parishes by Diocesan Dementia Group

    • To produce a checklist of questions for parishes to consider around being more dementia friendly in their church, community and Care home and support them if they want to work towards becoming a dementia friendly community/church.  The intention is that this will provide a framework that they can tailor locally.
    • To produce, share and maintain a list of resources, to support churches with the above, to be kept on the diocesan website.
    • To build up a reminiscence library/directory of useful equipment that can be loaned out to parishes for dementia related activities
    • To support awareness raising with businesses, schools, unformed organisations etc. and help support ‘compassionate’ caring communities
    • To work with the newly formed Diocesan Parish Support Team to spread the word/ enable parishes to become more dementia friendly.
    • To provide links to relevant information and encouragement to allow parishes to signpost to relevant support services.
    • To gather and provide examples of good practice of the church and partnerships working with voluntary organisations to support people with dementia and their carers.
    • As part of dementia friendly churches, to encourage parishes to review their environment using a dementia friendly checklist to ensure they are as accessible as possible (http://www.local.gov.uk/ageing-well).
  • Awareness and Advice

    • The contact group will be the diocesan dementia group.
    • Diocesan Dementia group representatives will attend deanery meetings to raise awareness and look for deanery volunteers to be trained/ be a contact
    • The dementia group to write to parishes about the work they do in church/community/care home to get a picture of what is already happening
    • To identify people and skills available, share good practice and encourage working together. 
    • To draw together a ‘panel’ or contacts of experts who can advise the Diocese in dementia related issues.
    • Resources, events, signposting etc. to be made available on the diocesan website