Supporting dementia community to get involved

Being involved in the community is an important part of leading a fulfilling life following a dementia diagnosis, says Darral Campbell, of Dementia Canterbury. “The most common feedback from the dementia community is that they don’t feel useful anymore, and that they want to give back to the community in some way. They also want to take part in the activities they are interested in, but they don’t feel safe or comfortable to do them anymore.”

A new toolkit has been developed to support a more dementia-friendly community and give those living with dementia the confidence to participate in activities they enjoy. Community Activity Groups for People Living with Dementia: A Guide to Getting Started was designed to encourage dementia NGOs across the South Island to partner with community-based organisations to provide dementia-friendly activities in normalised environments.

Dementia Canterbury began developing dementia specific community social programmes many years ago, by partnering with community-based organisations such as art galleries, museums, libraries, botanical gardens and theatre groups. These social activity groups not only helped people living with dementia enjoy meaningful activities in normal social settings, but also helped support care partners, by giving them a break.

The number of community organisations working in partnership with Dementia Canterbury increased over the years and in March 2019, the Health of Older People’s Service Level Alliance (HOPSLA) decided a ‘how-to’ toolkit was needed to support other Dementia NGOs across the South Island to partner with community organisations.

The toolkit consists of helpful tips, interviews, information and videos on how to get started, as well as a gallery of programme examples. “People with dementia are anywhere and everywhere and community-based organisations need to be responsive in the way they deliver their services,” says Darral. “And the diversity of the programme means looking at our own communities and what might work, given that different things work in different districts.”

While the venue and facilitator are provided by the community organisations, Dementia Canterbury provides the activities coordinator, the volunteers, as well as training. Darral says one of the benefits of working in partnership means no money changes hands. “We really encourage the partnership model, because we can do so much more in partnership than we can do on our own.”

One of those partnerships is with Christchurch Art Gallery, for Artzeimers – an art group for people living with dementia. Lana Coles, Education and Public Programmes Team Leader, created the group after realising seniors was one group in the community they didn’t have engagement with. She was also motivated for personal reasons. “My mum had dementia. I really wish something like these groups was available when mum was alive. Not just for her but also for my father and myself, who struggled with no support.”

Lana says the benefits for the gallery are “tremendous” and they couldn’t run the group without Dementia Canterbury. “They provide the people that come to the sessions, they do a wonderful job of promoting the service, contacting them for reminders and at each session there are social workers and volunteers to help. They also provided training for us on how to deal with the unexpected.

“It’s an equal partnership where each entity contributes what they want to and what they can. The attendees love it, the volunteers love it and it’s also helped our staff to become more accepting and inclusive of older people. The sessions are the same as public sessions, the only thing we had to do was slow it down a little bit.”

Susan Gee, Lead Researcher for the Psychiatry of Old Age Academic Unit, Canterbury DHB, helped put the toolkit together. She says it can be easy for people to become isolated after they receive a dementia diagnosis. “It’s not just about being in your home, it’s about being in your community. So, this is a chance to do things that connect people with the lives they’ve lived, the hobbies they’re interested in, reconnecting with who you are, in places that are familiar to you, and your place out there in the community.

“We know that being engaged in meaningful activities is good in many ways, like keeping your brain stimulated, giving a boost to your mood, being connected with things you love and places you love. For example, if you’re an art lover and you go along to the Dementia Canterbury buildings to do something related to art, versus going to the art gallery in the middle of town in that fantastic building, you can imagine how great that would feel.”

Read more information about the toolkit:
Community Activity Groups for People Living with Dementia: A Guide to Getting Started.

An Intersectoral Approach To Planning Future Health Outcomes

13 Oct 2016

Attendees take part in discussion during the South Island Alliance planning workshop in September.

The South Island’s approach to intersectoral collaboration was recognised by the Ministry of Health’s Jill Bond at the South Island Alliance’s recent planning workshop. Jill abandoned her prepared presentation and opted instead to address the audience informally, as guest speaker at the annual event.

The workshop was held in September to discuss and plan progress towards improving health outcomes for the South Island population and was facilitated by Carol Atmore, Chair of the South Island Strategic Planning and Integration Team (SPaIT). Other guest speakers included directors of the South Island’s Children’s Teams and the health lead from the Social Investment Unit.

The opportunities and challenges of an intersectoral approach were discussed, and the Chair and facilitator of each Service Level Alliance/Workstream also had a chance to talk about their achievements, as well as current and future projects. The eight South Island Alliance posters and the video produced as a finalist for the Award for Assuring Quality of Healthcare Standards (Team/Organisation), as part of the 2016 APAC Forum, were also showcased.

From left: Carolyn Gullery (SPaIT), David Meates (Alliance Leadership Team), Jill Bond (Ministry of Health) and Carol Atmore (SPaIT Chair).

“The workshop was a fantastic opportunity to get together as a team, as well as with our collaborative partners to discuss and share our approaches for the year ahead – and further into the future,” says South Island Alliance General Manager, Jan Barber.

“It was also a chance to talk about working with social sector agencies to achieve better health and social outcomes. It helped us to understand how far we have come as a region in working together over the past five years, as well as to see where we need to be going next as we work towards our goal of making a difference for the people of the South Island.”

The South Island Alliance enables the region’s five DHBs to work collaboratively to develop more innovative and efficient health services than could be achieved independently. The vision is for a sustainable South Island health and disability system – best for people, best for system.




Safety 1st Roll Out Going Well 3 Dhbs Live

01 Apr 2015

The roll out of Safety 1s, the new integrated e-risk management system, is progressing well according to the Quality and Safety Service Level Alliance, with three South Island DHBs now having launched the system to staff across their organisation and at another, more areas gaining access to the system every day.

Canterbury DHB was the first to launch the new system in February and is planning to be in The Princess Margaret Hospital, Burwood Hospital, Hillmorton, Ashburton and rural sites, and Community and Public Health by Easter 2015.  Christchurch Hospital campus planning is underway.

Southern DHB went live with the new system on 3rd March, and it is now active in all DHB sites. Nelson Marlborough is the most recent DHB to launch the system to its staff, going live on 9th March. West Coast DHB is planned to go live late March and South Canterbury is planning for 1 July.

The “Go Live” of Safety 1st is viewed as an important progressive step for the South Island Health Services, as they redesign and align the way in which they collect vital information on incidents and patient feedback. This information will then be put to its most important use,  improving patient and staff safety and improving the experience of care.

Feedback received from project teams to date suggests that the introduction of the system is being well received by staff, and complaints or problems with the system are minor and are being swiftly managed. The landmark project is being led by the Quality and Safety Service Level Alliance (Q&SSLA), whose members represent each of the five South Island DHBs and together are planning and managing implementation and roll out to each DHB.

The successful progress of the roll out is a testament to the huge effort and careful planning undertaken by project teams at regional and DHB level says Mary Gordon, Chair of the Quality and Safety SLA, “over 400 staff from the South Island have come together to help bring the vision of a regional, integrated, electronic risk management system to life. It has been a huge, and challenging journey and we are delighted that we can now see staff interacting with the new system, which means better reporting, and managing of risk and better patient outcomes over time. Well done everyone!”


Alliance Groups Collaborate To Reduce Youth Alcohol Harm


16 Mar 2015

Health experts from two South Island Alliance groups have come together on an important new project designed to support a long term reduction in the harm alcohol causes to young people living in the South Island. 

The “Emergency Department (ED) Alcohol project,” which kicks off in March, will take a broad look at how each South Island ED is managing the presentation of young people with alcohol related issues, and provide clear recommendations to support better outcomes for young patients moving ahead.

The project is being directed by the South Island Alliance’s Child Health and Public Health work streams, which consist of child health and public health experts from Southern, Canterbury, Nelson Marlborough, South Canterbury and West Coast DHBs, who have come together for the first time on this project.  The Health Promotion Agency is providing funding and Emergency Medicine Specialist Dr Paul Quigley has been appointed to provide medical consultancy and complete his study of South Island EDs in a scoping report due by the end of June 2015.

In his report, Dr Quigley will provide a detailed view of the issues related to presentations by young people under the influence of alcohol to South Island EDs including:

  • Reviewing the capacity and capability of South Island EDs to engage and respond to young patients that present with alcohol related issues,
  • Identifying and recommending referral pathways and effective interventions available locally for patients identified with alcohol (and drug) issues
  • Scoping the range of issues associated with alcohol data collection for youth alcohol ED presentations
  • Recommending opportunities for improvements to patient outcomes, systems, professional development, screening practices, data collection, brief interventions and policies within each DHB to improve patient outcomes.

This project follows on from the 2012 signing of a unified position statement on alcohol by each of the five South Island DHBs, which committed them to reducing the alcohol-related harm experienced by people within their district.  In addition each DHB committed to identifying and recording alcohol-related presentations within their district in a consistent manner.  The project marks an important step in achieving those goals as Ed Kiddle, Chair of the Public Health Partnership explains, “the ED Alcohol project is a significant step for South Island DHBs in improving data collection on alcohol-related harm in order to advance prevention activities, as well as identifying the most appropriate referral pathways available.”

David Barker, Chair of the Child Health Service Level Alliance commented on the project: “One of our (Child Health Group) priorities is to support equitable and accessible programmes across the South which reduce youth risk taking resulting from alcohol and drug use. This project is important as we see the real potential it has for directly reducing the long term harm caused by alcohol consumption and how it could make a real difference for many young people and their families and whanau living in the South.” 


Photo Caption: From left to right: Clive Nelson,  Chief Executive, Health Promotion Agency, Ed Kiddle, Chair of Public Health Partnership Group, Dr Paul Quigley and Nicola Austin, Outgoing Chair of Child Health Group of the South Island Alliance.

For more information contact Anna Dorsey, South Island Alliance Communications Advisor on 0275884672 or email

Celebrating International Day Of Older Persons


27 Sep 2013

Organisations around the South Island are celebrating International Day of Older Persons on 1 October with events and activities recognising the importance of older people in our communities, as well as their needs.  The South Island Alliance, a collaboration of the five South Island DHBs, is supporting International Day of Older Persons by spreading the message about positive aging.

South Island Alliance Health of Older People Chair Dr Jenny Keightley said the International Day of Older Persons was a great opportunity for people to learn more about positive aging.  “This is a chance to celebrate what is great about getting older, to appreciate the role of older people in our communities and promote ways of improving the health and well-being of older people.”

“There are so many different ways older people are involved in our communities – from exercise groups, through to looking after grandchildren, through to volunteer work – International Day of Older Persons is the time to recognise this, and encourage people to be involved if they are not already,” says Dr Keightley.

The South Island Alliance is working to ensure that older people have the support and access to services they need to stay healthy and independent.   Dr Keightley says “One of the keys to remaining independent when we get older is to be active and have good support around us – through International Day of Older Persons events, people can learn more about community groups and activities that older people can be involved in.”

Tying in with this year’s theme of ‘The future we want: what older people are saying’, the South Island Alliance is focused on ensuring health services are tailored to what older people want and need.  Dr Keightley says “The Alliance brings together older people and health professionals from a range of areas to look at ways we can make services work better for over 65s – listening to what the older person needs and having services and health professionals which can provide that is the ultimate goal.”

Below is a very small number of the events that are happening – contact your local Age Concern branch for more details about what else is happening in your area.

Marlborough Seniors “An afternoon at the Oscars dance”

Location: Blenheim

Date: Sunday 29 October 2013

Age Concern International Day of Older Persons Afternoon Tea

(celebrate with toe-tapping entertainment and afternoon tea)

Location: Richmond Town Hall, Richmond

Date: Tuesday 1 October 2013

Senior Services Expo

(Groups supporting seniors will be displaying their services and offering one on one support. There will also be guest speakers)

Location: NBS Theatre, Buller

Date: Tuesday 1 October 2013

Positive Ageing Expo

Location: Christchurch

Date: Monday 30 September 2013

Positive Aging Expo

(Free entry, motivational speakers, informative sessions, activities, displays by various services and agencies)

Location: Octagon Club, Dunedin

Date: Tuesday 1 October 2013