In the early 1980s there was little public awareness of Alzheimer’s disease in New Zealand and virtually no support services for people with dementia and their carers. This prompted a small group of Christchurch social workers to form the first ever support group in New Zealand dedicated to helping people care for those with dementia. Initially known as ADARDS (Alzheimers Disease and Related Disorders Society), the organisation grew into Alzheimers Canterbury at a regional level, with 20 other regional groups around the country. In 2016, Canterbury left the Alzheimers Federation and rebranded as Dementia Canterbury. Today Canterbury, Auckland, Waikato, Hawke's Bay, Lakes, and Wellington are the affiliates of Dementia New Zealand, covering over 70% of NZ's population.
While carer support remains integral to our service, our organisation has grown and developed significantly, incorporating a model of Living Well. This includes education and support, planning and therapeutic services, and meaningful activity in partnership with our community. We recognise the need for services to be responsive to people with dementia as well as those who support them. Dementia Canterbury's services cover all of Canterbury including the Ashburton region, North Canterbury, and Kaikoura, as well as the West Coast.