Kerry GAA produce excellent dementia inclusive booklet
By John Harrington
Most of us will have first-hand experience of dementia, most usually through an elderly family member or friend.
That’s hardly surprising when you consider that 30 people are diagnosed with dementia every day and over 64,000 people are currently living with the condition in Ireland.
Those statistics are among the many revealing nuggets of information in the Dementia Inclusive GAA Communities booklet (available to download at the bottom of this article) which was launched yesterday by Kerry GAA and which will be an excellent resource not just for GAA clubs and communities in Kerry, but beyond.
The booklet was produced in collaboration with the Dementia Friendly Tralee (DFT) and the HSE and is the latest in a series of initiatives that Kerry GAA have undertaken to raise awareness of dementia and how we can make GAA clubs and grounds more inclusive for those with the condition.
“There is a journey in the sense that we've been working with Dementia Friendly Tralee (DFT) for a number of years,” says Jimmy Mulligan, Chairperson of Kerry GAA’s Health and Wellbeing Committee, who himself represents Kerry GAA on DFT.
“We would have done online training during Covid with Healthy Club officers in terms of dementia awareness and that led then to also training stewards at Austin Stack Park and Fitzgerald Stadium about dementia awareness.
“There was a lot of positive feedback from the training and then at a Healthy club meeting the clubs requested dementia awareness information which was the genesis of where the information booklet came from.
“It’s a very relevant topic for a big part of the community. We talk about the importance of inclusivity in the GAA and I think a very important cohort to be included in that conversation are the older people who built the GAA. It’s very important we don’t ignore them.
“In fairness to the HSE we've had great support from them in terms of producing this booklet.”
Catherine Murphy, a Senior Occupational Therapist with the HSE and member of the DFT, is a key contributor to the Dementia Inclusive booklet and hopes it will give GAA members and clubs a greater insight into the illness and how we can be more inclusive of those with dementia.
“Each person with Dementia is different, many experience memory difficulties, difficulty with money and begin to avoid social occasions which may have become challenging,” she says.
“Having officials and staff that understand the signs and symptoms of dementia can put people at ease and encourage people to remain engaged in the activities that they enjoy.
“Having pitches, clubhouses and stadiums that enhance accessibility and are easy to navigate, can make the difference between someone attending their local GAA clubs and avoiding social isolation.
“It’s about empowering people to engage in meaningful activities, therefore enhancing their quality of life, which in turn can enable independence and allow safety and confidence to continue with everyday activities.”
The Dementia Inclusive GAA Communities booklet provides loads of practical information about how best to interact with people with dementia and make our clubs and grounds more inclusive for them.
There are tips on how to communicate with a person with dementia and recommendations of the sort of signage and other environmental changes that would make it easier for someone with dementia to navigate communities.
The booklet is a wonderful resource for any clubs hoping to make their grounds and wider community more dementia-friendly and can be downloaded below.