Young and old people holding hands

For the past couple of years, IMH Research Fellow Fiona Marshall, along with numerous groups and individuals, has been working on the Rural Dementia Charter as part of the 2020 Prime Minister's Dementia Challenge. This has led to the production of two documents: the charter for policy makers and an Alzheimer's Society guide to dementia-friendly rural communities. Fiona Marshall is the first author of both documents.

The charter recognises that there are particular complex issues in rural communities which affect the uptake of dementia care and service delivery, such as a higher proportion of older people living in rural areas than urban ones, consequential lower numbers of working age people to deliver care, isolation, and transport issues, amongst others. It also acknowledges that both stigma and a desire to maintain the idyllic identity of such communities may mask genuine need for support services. It therefore proposes an increase in dementia friendly initiatives, as well as in less visible means of support.

This is where the idea of care farming, which is based on commercial and social contribution, seems to work. The intention is that care farms are producers and sites of meaningful contribution. Some are making a profit and others are working towards this model with sustainability in local communities at the core rather than a reliance on formal NHS/social care contribution (which can be seen as degrading by individuals). This also helps communities to be less dependent on seasonal tourism for income as this is year round. 

To read more or to download a copy of the Alzheimer’s Society rural communities guide, click here: