Developing dementia-friendly communities in Scotland and Japan will be the focus of an international partnership involving the University of Stirling.
Academics from the University’s Dementia Services Development Centre (DSDC) will work with the Tokyo Metropolitan Geriatric Hospital and Institute of Gerontology (TMGHIG) to share expertise in supporting older people, and to promote inclusive and personalised approaches to dementia care.
A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed by Professor John Gardner, Senior Deputy Principal of the University, and by Dr Hideki Ito, CEO of TMGHIG at a ceremony in Tokyo.
Fiona Hyslop MSP, Scottish Cabinet Secretary for Culture, Tourism and External Affairs, attended the signing ceremony, and delivered a keynote speech at the Japan-Scotland Dementia Seminar, co-ordinated by Scottish Development International (SDI) and the Scottish Government.
Ms Hyslop said: “Dementia touches all our lives either directly or through our family and friends, and it is crucial that we look to meet the needs of people living with dementia, or are newly diagnosed with the condition.
“In Scotland, we continue to take a whole-system approach to improving services – it is really important that people are not discriminated against or disempowered because of the progress of their illness or their particular care circumstances.
“And here in Japan, I have been heartened to learn about the pioneering work being undertaken on dementia-friendly communities and discover we share some similar approaches.”
Dr Louise McCabe, Senior Lecturer from the University’s DSDC, also attended the ceremony, alongside Dr Shuichi Awata, Team Leader of TMGHIG, and Tomofumi Tanno, of the Orange Door – a support contact for dementia patients and their families in Japan.
Scotland and Japan are remodelling their approach to care of older people due to ageing populations, with a particular emphasis on dementia.
Stirling’s Dr McCabe said: “By creating dementia-friendly communities and promoting social citizenship for people with dementia and their families, we aim to establish a society where people with dementia are supported to make choices about their own lives and to live well with dementia.
“Our research has helped improve the lives of people with dementia and their families in Scotland and beyond, for many years. Japan has one of the most rapidly-ageing societies in the world and there’s lots to learn from one another.
“We share an important common vision to support people with dementia and their families to achieve a good quality of life and look forward to working together to take strides forward in this area.”
Professor Alison Bowes, Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, added: “The Faculty is delighted to be working with TMGHIG to take forward research-informed improvements for people with dementia and their families on an international scale.”
Five million people in Japan live with some form of dementia and this is expected to rise to seven million by 2025. Prevalence in Scotland is estimated at up to 90,000, with around 45,000 people having a formal diagnosis.