Cornwall believed to be first ‘dementia-friendly’ community in Ontario

Cornwall believed to be first ‘dementia-friendly’ community in Ontario
From left at the Cornwall office of the Alzherimer's Society of Canada are Adrian Bugelli

CORNWALL, Ontario – Cornwall is one of the first, if not the first, municipalities in Ontario to designate itself a dementia-friendly community.

City council voted this week to have all front-line municipal staff trained to deal with persons with dementia. The city will also identify municipal buildings as dementia-friendly offices.

As a city where nearly 40 per cent of the population is grappling with a dementia diagnosis, or is caring from someone with the affliction, the news is being welcomed by experts

“One of the things that people living with dementia…have said is that it is really challenging for them to get out,” said Shelley Vaillancourt, executive director of the local Alzheimer’s Society of Canada office. “They need supports. When they say to people they have dementia…those people don’t know what to do next.”

Later this year city staff will begin to receive training to deal with members of the public who may present themselves at a municipal building exhibiting signs of dementia.

“We are very pleased with the city making this decision and in terms of going through training we hope to highlight the City of Cornwall as being the community setting the example for other communities,” added Vaillancourt. “I think Cornwall is the first community in Ontario to do this.”

Within SD and G and Prescott-Russell as many as 3,500 people have been diagnosed with dementia, be it full-blown Alzheimer’s or other similar conditions.

City councillors voted unanimously to support the move.

“I like the sound of the dementia-friendly workshops and that looks like it will be a good thing,” said Coun. Bernadette Clement.

One of the ways a person can educate themselves on dementia, and be counted as a dementia friend is to visit and watch a short video while also registering as a person who has educated themselves on the condition.

The Alzheimer’s Society would like to see 7,000 Cornwall and area residents registered on the site, which will help this region become known as a dementia-friendly community.

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