AMM08 - The DEMCOM study: A National Evaluation of Dementia Friendly Communities

Status: Completed

DEMCOM study logo


Dementia Friendly Communities (DFCs) are one way of enabling people affected by dementia to be active and valued members of their local community.

The Prime Minister’s Challenge in 2015 pledged that by 2020 over half of England’s population will be living in a Dementia Friendly Community. As of July 2020, there are approximately 350 dementia friendly communities in England according to the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friends website. If you would like to visit dementia friends’ website please click here.

The DEMCOM study was funded by the Department of Health and Social Care NIHR Policy Research Programme to undertake a national evaluation of dementia friendly communities. The study ran from January 2017 to June 2019 and evaluated how DFCs support people living with dementia and their carers, the approaches that have worked best, and how to sustain them.


A mixed method study DEMCOM included: a scoping review, linking population data on dementia prevalence with DFC activities, a survey and detailed case studies of DFCs. The latter piloted and refined an evaluation framework that was originally used to evaluate age friendly cities. People living with and affected by dementia were involved throughout all phases of the study.

Key findings

The main findings from this study are that:

  • Across England, Dementia Friendly Communities are located in areas where they can have the greatest impact.
  • Policy support and a system for formal recognition (e.g. Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Friendly Communities Programme) have provided an impetus for DFCs in England, however, achieving this requires strong local collaborations and leaders.
  • Importantly, the role of statutory services (e.g. local authority) as ‘anchor’ organisations were found to be important sources for funding, expertise and continuity of support.
  • There was limited evidence of DFCs engaging with dementia risk reduction as part of wider public health activities.
  • A consistent finding was the importance and challenges of sharing good practice communicating within and between DFCs to establish what was being done, for whom and when.
  • Positive economic scenarios (from our economic evaluation) emphasised the importance of supporting DFCs in their evaluation efforts to confirm the social return on investment of DFCs and ensure their sustainability.

Download a graphic of the findings here

Outputs and impact

Since it’s completion in 2019, the DEMCOM study findings have:

  • Been used by the Alzheimer’s Society community engagement and policy team on how they will extend and expand the work of DFCs and their evaluation.
  • Been the focus of a national briefing event involving charities and organisations working with people affected by dementia
  • Provided the basis for the launch event of the first dementia friendly community in Spain (
  • Provided the basis for the briefing by Alzheimer’s Society to the World Dementia Council to report on the impact of meaningful Dementia Friendly initiatives and guidance for the global evaluation of DFCs.
  • Been included in multiple future research bids.
  • Produced two open access papers:
    • Buckner, S., Darlington, N., Woodward, M., Buswell, M., Mathie, E., Arthur, A., ... & Goodman, C. (2019). Dementia friendly communities in England: a scoping study. International journal of geriatric psychiatry34(8), 1235-1243. (OPEN ACCESS)
    • Woodward, M., Arthur, A., Darlington, N., Buckner, S., Killett, A., Thurman, J., ... & Goodman, C. (2019). The place for dementia‐friendly communities in England and its relationship with epidemiological need. International journal of geriatric psychiatry34(1), 67-71. (OPEN ACCESS)

Next steps

Work is currently underway to develop a resource to accompany the DEMCOM evaluation framework that can be used by DFCs at different stages of development and test this with additional DFCs in England.

Recent activity

July 2020: Dr Stefanie Buckner presents DEMCOM at the BSG. Watch the presentation online here

Research team

University of Hertfordshire

Professor Claire Goodman (PI),

Dr Andrea Mayrhofer

Dr Elspeth Mathie

Nicole Darlington 

Dr Angela Dickinson

Dr Marina Buswell

Pepsi Reilly

University of Cambridge

Dr Louise Lafortune

Dr Stefanie Buckner


University of East Anglia

Professor Antony Arthur

Dr Anne Killett

Dr Michael Woodward

John Thurman

Dr Chris Skedgel


If you would like any more information about the DEMCOM study, or would like to get in contact, please contact Nicole Darlington (Senior Research Assistant, ARC East of England) at


This is based on independent research commissioned and funded by the NIHR Policy Research Programme (Dementia Friendly Communities: The DEMCOM study, PR-R15-0116-21003). The views expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR, the Department of Health and Social Care, ‘arms’ length bodies or other government departments. This is a collaboration between three universities who are all part of the Applied Research Collaboration East of England: University of Hertfordshire, University of East Anglia and University of Cambridge.