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City of Yorkton looking at how facilities serve those with dementia

Signage and bathrooms among shortcomings
kinsmen arena
Proper signage and access can make life easier for those with dementia. (File Photo)
YORKTON - The City of Yorkton has taken a look at its public facilities to determine how well they serve the needs of those with dementia and their caregivers. 

Monday at its regular meeting Yorkton Council heard a report about a research project that the Recreation and Community Services Department has been involved in which ‘audited the facilities.’ 

“In April 2020, The Recreation and Community Services department was invited to attend an information session about a new project that was launching in Yorkton - Interventions to Enhance Social Inclusion of Older Adults with Dementia in Saskatchewan,” explained Lisa Washington, Manager of Community - Culture & Heritage, with the City.

“This project was for five years, is federally funded and focuses on improving the public’s awareness of the stigma and social isolation experienced by people with dementia and their care partners. It focuses on supporting individual, community and organizational interventions to enhance social inclusion of older adults and their care partners in small cities and rural communities. The project is conducted by the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit … a bi-university health research unit based at the Universities of Regina and Saskatchewan, and it is funded by the Government of Canada New Horizons for Seniors Program.” 

In March 2021 … the City applied for and received funding for an “Indoor Public Facility Audit”, to encourage our facilities to be more inclusive and accessible for seniors living in Yorkton, including those living with dementia, explained Washington. 

“We engaged a consultant, who had worked on a previous sub-project, to amalgamate two environment checklists - one from the Alzheimer's Society of Saskatchewan and the other from Age-Friendly Saskatchewan. She also reconnected with people from a previous project, two couples with lived experience with Dementia, to become our “Experts”,” she told Council. 

“The Experts and the Consultant toured and audited each of our twelve public facilities, twice, using a different entrance each time, if possible. With each audit, observations began in the parking lot, and each entrance and exit were used at least once. The team role-played attending an event or accessing services and going through all the activities that would be involved in doing so. Additionally, the couples and the consultant, all resided outside of Yorkton making their experience that much more authentic.

The final report, attached for your information, will be used as a resource to inform our operations moving forward. It has their comments, observations, completed checklists and photos for each facility plus some info on other financial resources (grants) that might assist with implementation of their recommendations.” 

The majority of recommendations are toward improved signage to assist people with navigating more independently and find services on their own, noted Washington. 

Washington noted the project meets objectives in the City’s 2020 Strategic Plan, and aligns with aspects of the Official Community Plan. 

Council supported a recommendation to receive and file the report, and to encourage organizations and businesses to participate in the project “Interventions to Enhance Social Inclusion of Older Adults with Dementia in Saskatchewan” and learn more ways to enhance social inclusion of older adults with dementia in our community, by contacting the Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Unit.