Dementia-Friendly Church

Where are you encountering dementia in your church/community?
What are your experiences of dementia? 

  • Perhaps you are living with dementia or you know people in your family or at church or in your community affected by dementia. 

  • Perhaps you would like to understand a bit more about dementia and the ways of keeping in step as dementia progresses. 

  • Perhaps dementia is not talked about much in your church and community – but you’re noticing patterns are changing for people. 

Dementia affects many people. It brings very real challenges and changes over time. As dementia progresses, patterns of life change not just for the person with dementia but for those around them, their family and their church or community too. Many of us have direct experience of dementia ourselves, or with a partner or a parent, a friend or a neighbour. 

Our Dementia-Friendly Churches Network supports churches in becoming more dementia-friendly churches at the heart of dementia-friendly communities: 

  • Increasing dementia awareness, so that we understand more about dementia and can stay in step as patterns change through advancing dementia; and 

  • Welcoming and understanding, respecting and supporting, listening to and learning from people affected by dementia, giving space for everyone to participate and contribute. 

Through our Dementia-Friendly Church Network, we are committed to naming and facing dementia together.  We need space both to acknowledge the change and the loss that dementia brings and also to affirm the life and love that can be shared on the path through dementia. 

Across our Diocese, many churches keep connections with people through advancing dementia.  No-one is asked to navigate the deep waters of dementia alone – and our churches offer a supportive community, building on a network of active participants: working together across the network, we can support one another as we listen and learn, sharing ideas, resources and experiences. 

Dementia raises profound questions which go to the heart of our faith. Our experience, across our Network, is that as we stay in step together sharing more understanding more about dementia and listening to its impact, we go deeper in our spirituality and faith.  This can help us to understand more of what it is to be human – and of where God is, as we live through the unchosen challenges of dementia. 

Strategic Framework: Embarking, Embedding, Extending 

table showing the three stages: 1) Embarking - introduction and resources. 2) Embedding - certificates, actions, networking/contact and spirituality. 3) Extending - community connectionsOur three-stage framework for our Dementia-Friendly Churches Network involves “Embarking, Embedding, Extending”.

Bishop Michael’s Lead on Dementia-Friendly Churches 

The Rt Revd Dr Michael Ipgrave OBE, Bishop of Lichfield, affirms that he is “proud to be part of a diocese that takes dementia-friendly church seriously”.  The diocese has been actively involved with dementia-friendly church since 2013. Bishop Michael personally signs all our Dementia-Friendly Church and School Certificates. When Bishop Michael spoke at a Dementia-Friendly Churches Training Day, he highlighted three important themes – listening, participating and learning: to find out more on this, click here.

Dementia-Friendly Church Certificates 

screenshot of the Dementia-friendly Church certificateWe’ve been using Dementia-Friendly Church Certificates since 2017, offering them to churches that commit to taking three actions on dementia in the next 12 months.  And churches that participate are entitled to use the “Becoming Dementia Friendly Church” logo.  We’ve got more than one hundred across the diocese signed up with Dementia-Friendly Church Certificates – and these are renewed each year, with three new actions. 

No action is too small – and we share ideas of possible actions across the network so that no-one has to reinvent the wheel.  For example, natural first actions might be any of the following: 

  • Attend an online Dementia Friendly Church Introduction session. 
  • Hold a Sunday service with a dementia focus. 
  • Appoint a Dementia Coordinator, who is willing to talk to people about dementia and memory loss, to share information and resources and to hold people with dementia in their prayers. 
  • Put an article about dementia in the parish magazine. 
  • Name dementia regularly in our prayers in church. 
  • Sign up to receive our Dementia-Friendly Churches Newsletter, sharing ideas and experiences. 

Dementia-Friendly School Certificates

screenshot of the Dementia-friendly School certificateSince autumn 2022, we’ve launched a Dementia-Friendly School framework and Certificate too, for church schools and schools with a strong church connection.  It’s a great opportunity for collaboration between churches and local schools. Find out all about this here: https://www.ldbe.co.uk/becoming-dementia-friendly-schools/ 

In one Stoke school, a child has written this prayer about dementia: 

Please help those with dementia, 
watch over them and keep them safe. 
Help the people who care for them, 
giving them peace and patience. Amen.

Dementia-Friendly Churches blog and newsletter

Read more about dementia-friendly churches and dementia-friendly schools in our blog: we add to it every month or so.

You are welcome to sign up here to receive our Dementia-Friendly Churches Newsletter which will drop into your email inbox. Email Sarah Thorpe to be added to the list.

Our Core Dementia-Friendly Church Resources 

In the Diocese of Lichfield, we have various resources which we are using with churches, to help them become more dementia-friendly churches at the heart of dementia-friendly communities. We’re glad to share these resources – and they are available for anyone to download

Next steps? 

To find out more, contact Sarah Thorpe, Dementia-Friendly Church Enabler sarah.thorpe@lichfield.anglican.org / 0798 224 8949:

  • for a conversation about your experiences of dementia in your church and community; 
  • to discuss how the Dementia-Friendly Churches Network can support you; 
  • to join a regular dementia introduction session or local network meeting; 
  • to arrange a dementia-friendly church session for your deanery, perhaps at a deanery synod or chapter, or even a deanery half-day/day; or 
  • to sign up to receive Dementia-Friendly Churches newsletter. 

Latest Dementia-friendly Church stories

Working Together - Dementia-Friendly Churches & Schools

17th October 2023

In 2022/3, our first ten schools across the Diocese of Lichfield signed up for Dementia-Friendly School framework and Certificate....

Dementia-friendly Welcome

8th September 2023

A good way to make your church’s welcome more dementia-friendly is to run a session for Welcomers. Why not try the format which has been used effectively at St Mary’s Church, Market Drayton?...

Knowing as a church we care

17th July 2023

Christ Church Burntwood has been engaged with become a more dementia-friendly church at the heart of a dementia-friendly community for some while now....

Prayer as stepping out in faith

9th June 2023

Our third Dementia Action Week story comes from Shropshire...

Prayer as an anchor

18th May 2023

Our second Dementia Action Week blog comes from Di Holt, a Reader at St Luke’s Church, Cannock....

Prayer as connection

18th May 2023

Schools as well as churches can become Dementia-friendly places. St Paul's Longton is one school taking steps:...

Praying from the heart

23rd May 2023

In the run up to Dementia Action Week, prayers are the solace many have contributed in our Share A Prayer Through Dementia Initiative....

Share a Prayer through Dementia

27th April 2023

This year, people from across the diocese have contributed prayers from the heart, with our “Share a Prayer through Dementia” initiative, giving fresh prayers to use in Dementia Action Week (15-21 May)...

'Head to Heart' resource for families living through dementia

2nd February 2023

This resource is born of personal experience. My dad died in 2018 and he was diagnosed with dementia ten years earlier. He’d been a solicitor in Birmingham and spent his working life making incisive, head-level connections. The journey of the last decade of his life was a journey from head to heart....
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