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Ontario businesses learn to be dementia friendly with Blue Umbrella program

blue umbrella sticker

blue umbrella stickerHave you seem a blue umbrella sticker or pin in a shop and wondered what it means?

That blue umbrella is part of a program by the Alzheimer Society to educate businesses about what they can do to make their shopping experience dementia friendly. Towns like Waterloo and Thunder Bay have already been deemed dementia friendly communities by the organization, and now Sudbury is getting on board.

“Being dementia friendly is about supporting individuals with dementia and their caregivers” said Jessica Bertuzzi-Gallo, public relations manager with the Alzheimer Society, said in a press recently. “We know that there are many barriers preventing people with dementia from actively participating and feeling comfortable when out in the community, this program aims to ensure they receive great customer service and can feel comfortable knowing they are supported.”

The main goals of the Blue Umbrella program are to help people with dementia get along better in the day to day life of their communities, help educate those who may not know much about dementia, and promote a more independent lifestyle for those who are living with it. To do so they are offering a free 30-minute-long training session which teaches businesses and other organizations how to provide ample customer service to people with dementia and their caregivers.


When the session has been completed, those who participated will receive a certificate showing that they took the course, and the business or organization will receive a Blue Umbrella sticker which can be put in their window. People who are living with dementia may also wear Blue Umbrella pins.

A similar program exists in the UK and is ran by the Alzheimer’s Society. Dementia Friendly Communities is a program which also aims to make communities more aware of dementia and its impacts, how to better service those who have it, and how to get them more involved in day to day life.

Dementia Friendly Businesses in the UK is funded by their Department of Health and looks at how businesses support employees, customers, and communities when it comes to dementia and how they can improve on what they’re currently doing. It will be conducting case studies and releasing a report next summer on how businesses can become more dementia friendly.

By the year 2020, predicts UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the UK will be the friendliest place in the world for those who live with dementia. Those aged 40 and older will be given information about dementia and other related issues when they get check ups, research will be conducted regarding the care of those with dementia, and increased hospital care for those with severe issues.

“A dementia diagnosis can bring fear and heartache, but I want Britain to be the best place in the world to live well with dementia. Last parliament we made massive strides on diagnosis rates and research – the global race is now on to find a cure for dementia and I want the UK to win it,” says Hunt.

Below: Alzheimer Society Blue Umbrella Program

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