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Diocese of Ripon & Leeds

The diocese stretches from North Yorkshire and the edge of County Durham through to the heart of West Yorkshire, and is made up of a network of Anglican churches serving people from all walks of life. The largest centre of population in our diocese is the city of Leeds, whilst our cathedral is in the city of Ripon.

8 May 2014
Yorkshire and Humber
Local Alliances:
Yorkshire & Humber Dementia Action Alliance, Bradford District Dementia Action Alliance, Leeds Dementia Action Alliance, Wakefield and Five Towns Dementia Action Alliance

1. Action Plan

1. The National Dementia Declaration lists a number of outcomes that we 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. The Church should value the contribution which all people bring to the life of their communities.

The Diocese of Ripon and Leeds comprises of parishes from across many parts of North Yorkshire, the Dales and most of the Leeds city region. 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 the sacrament of Holy 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

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 dementia sufferers
  • Knowledge and relations with residential and nursing homes in their 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

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

•              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.

•              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. 

2. Actions

  • Awareness Raising

    (1)          The Healing, Pastoral Care and Spirituality Task Group of the Diocese will be the point of contact for anyone who has contributions or concerns in these matters. The Task Group will organize awareness-raising activities through events, newsletters, contacts with various agencies and the Diocesan website.  Our aims are:

    •              To impart key facts about dementia in a clear, informed and straightforward way

    •              To promote clear thinking about the social and spiritual issues for people with dementia and their families and what can be done to help and support people

    •              To promote strong pastoral networks within churches to help people with dementia and their carers

  • Wider Community Engagement

    (2) To undertake in-depth work with a number of churches from differing settings, (rural, suburban, cathedral and city,) looking at wider community engagement in order that we can understand better opportunities, barriers and solutions.  The learning from this work will feed into awareness raising activities and form the basis from which we can establish and spread good practice more widely.

  • Pre-retirement Course

    (3) The Diocese will develop a pre-retirement course for clergy and other employees which includes dementia as a topic

  • Volunteering

    (4) We will seek to work alongside other organizations (e.g. the national Alzheimer Society’s Dementia Friends programme and local Alzheimer Society projects, Ripon Dementia Forum) and to encourage more people to volunteer and get involved in such groups.