What is Advocacy?
There are many forms of advocacy but in the context of our work it means working to make the voice of people with dementia and their carers heard. There are two main elements to doing this; the first is to raise public awareness of dementia and the second is engaging in political campaigning.
As an organisation, we work at a political level to make policy makers aware of the issues which affect people with dementia and their family carers. Our political advocacy is informed by the work of a small and dedicated policy team who endeavour to develop evidence-based policy solutions. Our Medical and Scientific Advisory Panel, who include experts in the many fields involved in dementia care, treatment and support, are an integral component in developing this evidence-base.
Self, peer and collective advocacy
Ultimately, advocacy should support people to be empowered, providing a mechanism in which they can speak out (self-advocacy). People who are in similar situations can also be powerful advocates for each other (peer advocacy) and groups of people directly affected by an experience can advocate powerfully as a collective group (collective advocacy).
The ASI therefore facilitated the first Irish Dementia Working Group in 2013. Since then people living with dementia who form this working group have raised awareness at national and international conferences, spoken powerfully on radio and television and lobbied government and senior government officials on the needs of people living with dementia. A representative from the Irish working group is also a member of the EU Working Group of People with Dementia, where people with dementia from all over Europe come together to advise Alzheimer Europe on policy issues (http://www.alzheimer-europe.org/Alzheimer-Europe/Who-we-are/European-Working-Group-of-People-with-Dementia).
Towards the end of 2013 a similar group for carers called the Dementia Carers Campaign Network was established. The aim of this group is for dementia carers to represent, raise awareness and campaign on the distinct needs of people who care for someone with dementia.
If you have dementia or care for someone with dementia and would like to find out more about getting involved in advocacy please contact Joanna Joyce, ASI Advocacy Officer, on 01-2073813 or email firstname.lastname@example.org