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Charity launches dementia guide for churches

A Christian charity has launched a special guide to help churches welcome and include people with dementia.

This Dementia Action Week sees the launch of a Dementia Inclusive Church Guide. Titled Travelling Together, this practical resource from Livability is designed to support churches to take their next steps towards dementia inclusion.

Increasingly dementia is understood to be an acquired disability, but there often remains great stigma around living with the condition. Too often in our society, and within churches, people living with dementia and those affected by it face barriers that impact their lives and opportunities.

One reason for the continuing barriers is that dementia is sometimes referred to as the ‘disease of identity’, prompting people to ask, ‘Who am I?’ or ‘Who is this person now?’

Rather than considering who a person is when they develop dementia, Travelling Together invites churches to engage with this question across their life course. The focus needs to continue to be on the person, rather than their dementia.

While certain aspects of life may become more difficult as a person’s dementia progresses, Travelling Together seeks to offer a strength-based approach and hope-filled outlook within what can be the most difficult chapter of a person’s life. A few small changes within a church context can add up to make a huge difference to the continuing participation of a person living with dementia.

Whatever point a church is at on their journey towards inclusion, this guide will encourage and inspire every church family to take their next steps, and to keep Travelling Together, alongside those who are living with dementia and affected by it.

People often ask about the symptoms of different types of dementia, the theology of dementia, and even what happens if dementia means a person no longer remembers their faith.

Whether a church would benefit from an environment audit, refreshing their theology of identity, or making their Sunday services more dementia-inclusive, much of the content of Travelling Together will also be applicable for disabled people more broadly, ensuring that everyone feels that church is somewhere not only where they are welcome, but where they belong.

This guide is the result of running Dementia-Inclusive Church workshops around the country, and includes information, reflections, and resources that have featured most in those workshops.

Churches can download the guide from www.livability.org.uk/travellingtogether

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