SHERIDAN — Dementia Friendly Wyoming met Friday to discuss the next step in Sheridan’s transformation.
Last fall, the group received a $1.1 million grant from the federal government to increase awareness, diagnosis and support for those living with dementia and their caregivers.
Director of Dementia Friendly Wyoming Kay Wallick said since receiving the grant the group has conducted a community-wide needs assessment to find strengths and gaps in Sheridan’s current knowledge and skill level and its priority for action.
This comprised of looking at 11 sectors including residential settings, government, transportation, health care and caregiving. The process included 125 separate interviews.
Working with Dementia Friendly America, the group found that many sectors felt they lacked overall awareness and adequate dementia friendly skills.
But, those groups thought it a high priority to take action to gain the knowledge and skills.
“We interviewed 42 businesses, most of them really wanted us to come back and provide some education,” Wallick said. “So we have 15 volunteers that will be providing that education to businesses, to the faith community, to the health community, emergency responders, everybody.”
Members broke into separate groups on Friday to discuss individual aspects of how to make Sheridan dementia friendly. Immediate past president of the Sheridan County Chamber of Commerce Richard Garber spoke for the group discussing the next phase for community awareness.
He said the Chamber can help by setting up an information kiosk and by using its newsletters, luncheons, after-hours events and mailings to inform residents. The group also suggested providing stickers to dementia friendly businesses to identify that they have had training.
“What better place to start than a Chamber membership that consists of businesses up and down our Main Street,” Garber said, adding that many of the businesses likely already work with individuals with dementia.
Sheridan Senior Center volunteer Georgia Foster spoke for her group, which discussed resources for caregiver and family training. A focus was on how to incorporate exercise with a purpose. They suggested replacing regular exercise programs with art, gardening and other outdoor activities.
Sheridan College nursing program CNA instructor Amy Wyatt said she’s working on a module that will be incorporated into the nursing assistant course that teaches dementia care. She said she is about halfway through that process.
In the first year of the three-year grant, Wallick said the group will focus on awareness and training and making a culture shift. She said that Sheridan will most likely become the licensee of videos and information put out by Dementia Friendly America and will share those throughout the state.