Throwback Thursday – Connecting Communities

For this Throwback Thursday we’re looking at Connecting Communities, a 27-month pilot project delivered by the Alzheimer’s Society with funding from the Department of Health. The Association for Dementia Studies was commissioned to undertake an external evaluation of the project.

What was the background to the project?

The number of people with dementia from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities is expected to increase at a greater rate than across the UK population as a whole. Raising awareness of dementia and risk factors that can be more common in some BAME communities could help to reduce the number of people with dementia from those communities in the future and reduce barriers to accessing services.

London is one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world with 55% of its population being from BAME groups. The Alzheimer’s Society’s innovative pilot ‘Connecting Communities’ project aimed to increase awareness of dementia amongst BAME communities in London. Eight boroughs were included in the pilot project.

Map of London showing the boroughs selected

What were the project aims?

The Connecting Communities Project aimed to:

  • Increase engagement with BAME communities and community specific dementia health care providers;
  • Increase dialogue between BAME communities and the Alzheimer’s Society and wider stakeholders;
  • Increase dementia awareness and knowledge of dementia care services in BAME communities;
  • Increase understanding amongst professional groups of dementia specific issues faced by BAME groups.

How was the project evaluated?

A variety of evaluation methods were used including:

  • Questionnaires for community organisations receiving awareness sessions
  • Semi-structured interviews with project staff
  • Observations of the awareness sessions
  • Stakeholder focus groups
  • Feedback from volunteers

What was the outcome of the project?

Over 540 dementia awareness sessions, talks and events took place, reaching 8,300+ people from BAME communities and greatly exceeding the original target. A total of more than 15,500 people were reached by the project activities as a whole including 2,500+ professionals and more than 4,600 additional members of the general public. The project had an even greater informal reach as people shared their newly-gained knowledge.

The BAME communities participating in the awareness sessions included: Afghan, African, Bangladeshi, Caribbean, Chinese, Greek, Indian, Somali, Tamil and Turkish, as well as further groups from Latin America, South Asia and the West Indies. BAME communities warmly-received and appreciated the awareness sessions. A key element of the success was tailoring sessions to the specific needs and preferences of the different communities.

As a result of the awareness sessions, the project has been able to address misconceptions regarding dementia that exist within BAME communities. People understand the potential impact that their lifestyle and diet may have in terms of being risk factors for dementia, and appreciate the importance of seeking professional help when symptoms first appear. They are also more aware of the dementia services available within their local areas. Additionally, carers have a better understanding of what their loved ones are experiencing and why they may behave in certain ways.

Resources developed by the project in multiple languages also provide a strong platform from which to take this work forwards.

For more information about the project please contact us on

Connect with ADS on twitter @DementiaStudies and on Facebook @adsuow

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