Senior Sergeant helping to make his community dementia-friendly

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Senior Sergeant Ricky Zimitat initially joined the Queensland Police Service to make a difference in his community by getting offenders off the streets. But he soon realised, especially in a small town, putting people in front of a magistrate was only a small part of his role as a police officer.

“I felt as though I lost part of my purpose of becoming a police officer, to make a difference in my community, and I was fast becoming a police robot, jumping through the required hoops to get the job done,” Senior Sergeant Zimitat said.

He was still passionate about the job but he was missing something.

Senior Sergeant Zimitat began to notice his community had an ageing population and many of the jobs he was attending were relating to people living with dementia.

An opportunity to participate in the Dementia Friends program through the Queensland Police Service arose and Senior Sergeant Zimitat jumped at the opportunity.

“I completed the training and took on the role as a Dementia Friend to assist people living with dementia in my community,” he said.

“I was better educated to assist people living with dementia and I helped support people living with dementia to not feel embarrassed, continue to stay connected with their community, and remain independent.

“Each officer can make a difference with a small action or gesture, especially for those that need us the most.”

Senior Sergeant Zimitat used his new training to hit the streets and talk to key stakeholders in his community such as staff in local businesses, retail shops and pharmacies. After speaking to key stakeholders and educating them about dementia, Senior Sergeant Zimitat started to notice positive changes in his community.

“People in the Baralaba community started to assist people with dementia when they were out and about, providing extra support with tasks such as grocery shopping and at the post office,” he said.

“Community members started to recognise unusual behaviours and act accordingly, treating people with respect and protecting their dignity.”

If you would like to read more about Senior Sergeant Zimitat or find out how to make your community more dementia-friendly, please visit dementiafriendly.org.au