What Connects Us~Ce qui nous lie

An intersectoral collaborative partnership of healthcare, community-based organizations, government, media, and academic organizations whose aim is to create an inter-connected community for all.

Who could benefit from reading this?

  • People living with dementia, care partners and social and health service providers.
  • Community organizations seeking to develop partnerships and collaborations with other sectors and organizations who can learn from the lessons learned and recommended resources identified by this initiative.

Review the Before you begin section for foundational knowledge that will be helpful for any dementia community initiative.

Key information

Who is this project for? People living with dementia, their carers (personal and professional), and the public

Project Lead: Culture & Mental Health Research Unit at the Jewish General Hospital and McGill University

Project partners: Volunteers In Partnership, Jewish General Hospital, National Centre for Dance Therapy, Les Grands Ballets Canadiens, Montréal Museum of Fine Arts, Les Arts et La Ville, Joyful Connections, Department of Psychiatry, Cummings Centre, Au Contraire Film Festival, Urban Pardes, Alzheimer Society of Montréal, Alzheimer Groupe Inc.

Project status: complete, 2019-2023

Get in touch:

What Connects Us team

Project story

Background:

The “What Connects Us~Ce Qui Nous Lie” project was a collaborative initiative aimed at enhancing the quality of life for individuals living with dementia, those who partner in their care and the community-based organizations that work with them. The priority concerns of key partner organizations were consulted to provide a blueprint for the project to establish local networks to cultivate enriched social and cultural environments. By connecting the realms of arts, culture, mental health, and academia, the project collaborated with community-based organizations, government bodies, media, and academic institutions to create a web of resources and decrease stigma surrounding dementia, mental illness, and aging through shared activities and events. The interventions were delivered both virtually and in the spaces provided by community-based organizations (e.g., non-government organizations, arts and culture institutions) and healthcare services.

Goals:

Improve the quality of life of people living with dementia and their care partners through:

  • The establishment of a comprehensive web of resources in the local community to provide support, connection and assistance
  • Enriched and engaging social and cultural environments
  • Ongoing partnerships between arts/culture, mental health, academic sectors and community based organizations that work with people living with dementia and their carers

Milestones and achievements:

  • Increased awareness, visibility and accessibility of ongoing activities for people living with dementia and their care partners, including creative dance, laughter yoga, gallery visits at the museum and art therapy.
  • Creation and hosting of community events including film screenings and discussions, both virtual and in person.
  • Development of the Community Care Network, a volunteer-driven initiative which aims to reduce social isolation and connect older adults with community resources through regular phone calls.
  • Development of a robust resource list and virtual map of the local community and resources available, including specific resources for older adults, crisis lines, shelters and specialized resources.
  • In-house library of first-person narratives about living with- and caring in Alzheimer’s and related disorders, including a curated collection of blogs and stories created by and for people living with dementia and their carers.
  • Numerous publications, presentations and panels

Impact

Project findings:

People who participated in dance, laughter yoga and/or film screenings reported:

  • Improved attitudes towards dementia
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness
  • Increased quality of life

Insights

Lessons learned:

  • This project supported the development of partnerships with various organizations to deliver shared activities and events for people living with dementia and care partners. A collaborative and relationship-focused approach was used to engage and sustain these partnerships in order to foster strong engagement, which begins with (and is sustained by) listening to the needs of local communities and creating a plan in response to those needs.
  • When employing an emerging research approach, the focus should be on listening to what matters to those with whom we work, from their first person perspective and in their own terms.
  • Staff turnover in partner organizations is likely, which requires a worthwhile investment of time and effort to cultivate relationships when a change occurs and help sustain the project work.

Recommended resources:

The following resources are recommended to groups interested in implementing a similar project:

  • Textbook: Evaluating Health Promotion Programs (Valente, 2002)
  • Chapter: Centring What Really Matters: A Reasoning Heuristic for Promoting Occupational Participation (Park & Rouleau, 2022), In M. Egan & G. Restall (Eds). Promoting Occupational Participation: Collaborative Relationship-Focused Occupational Therapy, 10th Canadian Occupational Therapy Guidelines
  • Survey platform: Lime Survey
  • Web host: Koumbit.org

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

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