Building Capacity for Meaningful Participation by People Living with Dementia

Promoting the full social citizenship of people living with dementia through practical resources and approaches, collaborative community programs and partnerships.

Key information

Who is this project for? People living with dementia and their care partners and the community at large, including community organizations that provide support and programming for older adults

Project Lead: University of British Columbia and Lakehead University

Project partners: Westside Seniors Hub and the North West Dementia Working Group

Project status: ongoing, with phase 2 underway (2023-2025)

Get in touch:

Dr. Alison Phinney, University of British Columbia

Dr. Elaine Wiersma, Lakehead University

Project story


Driven by a commitment to inclusivity and empowerment, researchers from University of British Columbia and Lakehead University collaborated with local organizations to create, foster and sustain opportunities for people living with dementia and care partners to maintain engagement within their communities. Acknowledging the unique challenges and strengths in each community, this project used an asset-based community development approach to support initiatives in arts, social participation, fitness, and volunteering. Beyond introducing new programs, this project explored how to adapt and improve established resources, such as existing programming in community and seniors centres, to create communities and spaces that are inclusive of people living with dementia.


To improve the well-being of people living with dementia by supporting and creating opportunities to remain active and socially connected by:

  • Creating community-led initiatives and events that engage, support and empower people living with dementia
  • Supporting and empowering partner organizations to build their capacity to offer inclusive programming and services
  • Developing educational materials and resources to promote understanding, inclusion and reduce stigma
  • Identifying, evaluating and sharing practices and approaches to make communities more dementia-inclusive

Milestones and achievements:

Development of resources, tools and knowledge mobilization products:

Creation of new dementia initiatives, including events offered weekly, bi-weekly and monthly:

  • Dementia Sisterhood facilitated peer support group
  • Dementia Ventures events
  • Happy Memories Café, offered in Spanish and English
  • Tablet lending program
  • Fireweed Club, a regular social gathering in the summer months
  • Gardening workshop series

Special events including:

  • Intergenerational storytelling event with Vancouver poet laureate Fiona Tinwei Lam
  • End of Year community celebrations
  • Field trips

Training, education and awareness initiatives:

  • Adaptation of the Flipping Stigma toolkit into a community training initiative used to train staff and 200+ volunteers from senior day centers, church groups and community gathering spaces (such as Neighborhood Houses)
  • Memory buddy training
  • Dementia and stigma awareness for Vancouver Public Library staff, in partnership with the Alzheimer Society of British Columbia
  • Bilingual (Mandarin and English) workshops, dementia education and training including topics of brain health and stigma

Support and capacity building of ongoing initiatives including:

  • Monthly North West Dementia Working Group (NWDWG) meetings
  • Dementia Café (held several times a month)
  • Taking Control of Our Lives facilitated peer support group

This project was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada under the Dementia Community Investment (DCI).

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