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St Mark's Church

Church of England parish church

26 May 2015
Yorkshire and Humber
Faith Groups
Local Alliances:
Harrogate and Rural District Dementia Action Alliance, Yorkshire & Humber 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.  Jesus himself modelled the importance of this in his own life on earth, showing particular care and compassion for those on the margins of society, and has set the pattern that 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 treated with dignity and compassion within His Church.

As a parish church we have an imporant role within our local community and can seek to:

Meet the spiritual needs of people with dementia

Helping people get to church and be supported at church.

Offering Holy Communion, prayer and spiritual fellowship at home or in residential care.

Provide pastoral support for people with dementia and their carers to share the caring role:


Getting alongside

Helping with practical tasks that can lighten the load

Ensuring people with dementia and their carers still feel welcome at church and part of the church family

As a parish church we have valuable resources:

A building that can be used for events and support groups

Networks and noticeboards for publicity and awareness-raising


We are well placed to link with churches of other denominations to build effective Christian ministries that maximize support and inclusion of people with dementia and their carers in the local community

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

Some people are able to adapt and find fulfillment 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.

Being realistic in our expectations of how much care and support people within our congregation can provide; support of people with dementia, therefore, must co-exist with the support we provide to others within our congregation and local community.  The support we are able to provide is affected by our resources - be they time, skills, space or money.


Member website


2. Actions

  • Awareness raising

    Raise awareness of what dementia is and what we might do to become more dementia friendly by:

    Attending "What Is Dementia Friendly Church" training run by the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales

    Running Dementia Friends sessions for all leaders of groups within the church, beginning with Parochial Church Council and church leadership team

    Organising dates to offer Dementia Friends session to all in church congregation

    Having an information stand in church for Dementia Awareness Week

    Putting an article in our monthly newsletter about Dementia Awareness Week

    Encouraging at least one person within the church to become a Dementia Friends Champion

    Being implemented
  • Establish working group

    Once awareness raising activities have taken place for the whole church community:

    Invite people to join a Dementia Friendly working group;

    Send out a questionnaire to the church community to better understand their priorities for how we work towards becoming a more dementia friendly church;

    Draw up a plan of proposed actions, a timeline and estimate any budget required

  • Link with local and national initiatives

    Link into relevant initiatives and projects being run by other organizations (e.g. the national Alzheimer Society’s Dementia Friends programme, local Alzheimer Society and Dementia Forward projects) to signpost people to available support and services and to encourage more people to volunteer and get involved.

  • Ensuring our church is welcoming to all

    As a parish church we have an important role to play within our local community . We need to explore effective ways of meeting the needs of people living with dementia their families and carers.

    We recognize that sometimes traditional ways of accessing the church and it's services can be a barrier for people. Individual members of our church may need extra support from us in getting to church, receiving  holly communion at home, visits form our pastoral team or practical support.

  • Raise awareness of dementia

    We can lead our noticeboards to publicise local services or events. We sign post people to  where they can  access support.  Dementia can be a topic in our church services.

  • Staying connected to our local community

    We are well placed to link with churches of other denominations to build effective Christian ministries that maximize support and inclusion of people with dementia and their carers in the local community.

    Sharing our valuable resources amongst the community. We can host or lead our building for community events.