Which City?

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Four Cornerstones - a model for friendly communities for us all?

This week Doncaster community partners from across health, local authority, voluntary and private sectors will agree an action plan for creating a Dementia Friendly Community. Over the last six months they have considered how Doncaster supports people with dementia and their carers and families and how the Borough could do even better. Through an Accelerated Learning Programme devised and led by AESOP Consortium and The Open Channel, around 20 community leaders have committed to making Doncaster more Dementia Friendly.

Doncaster will be the first place to use the Four Cornerstones model to develop its action plan for a Dementia Friendly Community. Developed  from concepts originally explored with Innovations in Dementia for work for the LGA's Ageing Well Progamme, the model was an integral part of our research for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation 'Creating a Dementia Friendly York' 

So what are the Four Cornerstones?

First is The Place. In this cornerstone we explore issues about the physical environment and infrastructure and ask how they help or hinder poeople with dementia and their carers. So for example:

What is the Scale of the Place, and what happens at each level?

City, Town, Village, Suburb, Street, Home

How Welcoming is it?

Human scale, Environmental Quality, Clean, Calm

What level of Clarityexists?

Buildings which look like what they are, Streetscape, Signage, Access, Transport

How Familiar is it?

Distinctive Elements, Landmarks, Features, Historic Resonance
In The People Cornerstone we consider how those closest to people with dementia - including carers and families, but also regualar carers and people in the community - support, react and respond. We ask:

What Awareness do people have of Dementia and what it means?

Do people and the community judge, stigmatise or patronise?

Are people understanding and empathetic?

Do they support, facilitates  the abilities of people with dementia, encourage the retention of skills and the aquisition of new skills and interests?
We call the third cornerstone Resources to signal that is about more than 'services', and consider:

What Natural, Physical, Cultural, and Personal resources does the community have - everything from rivers to evening classes.

How can care and support draw on the wider resources of the Community?

What role can Personalised Budgets play?

What Specialised Support exists?

The fourth cornerstone - Networks - is as much about how everything is wired together, through joint working and collaboration. We assess whether the networks are

Effective in sharing understanding

Practical in helping to solve problems

Inclusive in crossing boundaries

Discreet in respecting confidentiality

Strategic and Personal

In Doncaster the model has proved useful in helping partners to identify priorities for action. We do not suggest that any community can be fully dementia friendly, but anywhere can progress and become more so.

In developing and using the model, we have become convinced that it has wider applicability - we have looked in some detail at a number of age-friendly initiatives and feel that the model certainly applies in thinking about how to support older people. But why stop there? We all, whatever our age, condition or situation, are more likely to thrive in a community which is relatively 'friendly' - we need quality and support in terms of place, people, resources and networks, and we know that when one of these is missing or dysfunctional, problems occur. 

For community leaders, it is not enough to focus on one dimension in order to progress - we know that communities which work offer a multiple of benefits such as good environment, housing, culture, jobs, education, healthcare. We believe that the Four Cornerstones model has the potential to help community leaders to work together to identify how they need to improve and commit to action to create friendly communities for us all. 

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