Johnstone Dementia Friendly Community Group
Founder Karen McShane takes us inside the vital work of The Johnstone Dementia Friendly Community Group.
For anyone with lived experience of helping those with dementia, whether it’d be family members or in their working life, you know that it is no easy feat. In the case of Karen McShane, she’s seen both sides of the coin in both her personal life and in her time as a care worker and over time, she “realised that there wasn’t really anything in the area which supported carers for people with dementia as well as those who were living with it. So, I decided to do something.”
After receiving early funding from Renfrewshire Council alongside other organisations, the newly minted Johnstone Dementia Friendly Community Group had begun to pick up traction. In the wake of lockdown scuppering many of their plans, Karen’s organisation is now finally getting close to the model she’d envisioned and putting their funding to good use in order to uplift those in need.
“Recently, we’ve purchased a bluetooth projector, microphones, speakers and a silent disco system with 30 headsets which will allow people with dementia-induced sensory issues to put on headphones as then, all they’d hear is whatever film we might be screening. In addition, the projector gives us scope to do things like virtual fishing or golf which will tap into some of their interests and hobbies.
We’ve got catering equipment which allows us to provide lunches as well as transport for those who need it and we’re now looking into the prospect of getting bingo too,” Karen revealed.
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“The one stipulation that we have is that a carer or an appointed individual comes along, mainly because we want to provide a social occasion for them too and give them a chance to compare notes. We’ve seen some terrific friendships being formed and that wasn’t anything we were doing to facilitate it, they were just happening naturally.
“Anything we do, we want to do it with complete courtesy and respect to those concerned. At the moment, I’m looking for volunteers, but I’m also very eager to get local schools involved with creating memory books for people,” she declared.
“Not only will it provide the person with dementia to share their life story in a way that could be really helpful if they unfortunately end up in full-time care, but it also would teach the kids a lot about our history too.”
The Johnstone Dementia Friendly Community Group weekly social meetings will be held at the Scout Hall on Canal Road in Johnstone. For anyone who’d like to get involved please visit or call them at 07703 183653. You can also visit their website and follow them on Facebook.