Institute Circle from Slovenia in cooperation with partner NVU Impuls from Montenegro are implementing the project "Protecting the right to dignified ageing and dementia prevention", which is supported by the European Union, the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs of the Republic of Slovenia and the Ministry of Public Administration of Montenegro. The project aims for the empowerment of volunteers to offer lay psychosocial support to people with dementia, their families and caregivers, as well as towards building a sustainable mentoring programme that would enable further education and guidance of future volunteers as well.
Volunteerism is a powerful tool that has a long history and is based on the idea that the global starts with the local, which is especially important in today's fast-changing world. The right to care and support in the home community is extremely important for people with dementia. Caring for people with dementia can be a big challenge for their families and loved ones, which was also shown in the first mapping research of the needs of people with dementia, which was carried out in Montenegro as part of the project. With the programme of training and mentoring of volunteers, the project wanted to address the needs of the beneficiaries as effectively and directly as possible, and within this framework, a Manual for volunteers was created, which aims to enable the durability and longevity of the programme even in the future.
The e-manual contains important information about dementia with an emphasis on practical knowledge, including methods and techniques of working with people with dementia, specific activities and ways of communicating in a respectful, friendly, and sensitive manner. All this enables volunteers to renew and expand their knowledge and competences for direct work and help to people with dementia and their relatives. The e-manual also addresses volunteerism as such and emphasises the important role that volunteers can play in working with people with dementia and especially with their families and caregivers, who are often overlooked due to the lack of systemic support.
Based on the results of this research, which showed that the concept of dementia in Montenegro is very poorly understood, and at the same time, that there are no systemic strategies that would include people with dementia as a subgroup of the elderly and thereby enable appropriate additional support, it is important to create programmes that also give the wider community the opportunity to get educated and offer lay psychosocial help. With this goal in mind, the project also designed the relevant materials, which are easily accessible on its websites. Humans are social beings, together we are always stronger, which is why this project prioritises well-being, connecting and empowering communities for cooperation, finding collective solutions and mutual help. Through promotion and awareness, they want their programmes and materials to be as widely accessible as possible for practical benefit and sustainable use in the future.