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At its core, the Building Capacity Project aims to enable people living with dementia to participate in community life as full social citizens. The project will develop and evaluate effective ways to create sustainable opportunities for people living with dementia, and family/friend caregivers, to remain active and connected in their communities. Researchers at University of British Columbia and Lakehead University have partnered with community organizations to develop and evaluate supports and sustainable programs that help achieve this goal. In Thunder Bay, Lakehead University has partnered with the North West Dementia Working Group (NWDWG). In Vancouver, University of British Columbia has partnered with the Westside Seniors Hub (WSH). This project is driven by and is for people living with dementia.

To improve the wellbeing of people living with dementia, the Building Capacity project will develop initiatives in the areas of arts, social participation, fitness, and volunteer activities.  The project may also seek to adapt current resources (e.g. libraries, congregations, programming in community or seniors centres, etc.) to make them more inclusive of people living with dementia.  Overall, we hope to support the growth of innovative community initiatives that will foster inclusion and reduce stigma by creating opportunities for people with dementia to remain active and socially connected. 

The project is using an asset-based community development approach to move ideas into action in the two communities, in a way that respects the distinctive challenges and strengths in each.  At the same time, we are using a developmental evaluation so we can adapt and sustain the initiatives as we go along, and capture learnings about common underlying principles contributing to successful innovation.  Using an integrated knowledge exchange approach, we will share our learnings more broadly so they can be scaled out more broadly over time. Based on key learnings about what works, we will create a series of “how to guides” or other practical toolkits for communities wanting to implement similar initiatives to engage PLWD. This project is a part of the Dementia Community Investment strategy funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

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