It’s a phrase you’re probably hearing more and more, but what does a dementia-friendly community actually look like? Here’s a few examples of the ways communities nationwide are embracing the concept and helping to make life easier for people living with dementia

Supermarkets

Many supermarket staff have received dementia awareness training. In practice, this can mean opening a second till if someone needs time with change, or understanding that people sometimes forget to pay. It’s also about relationships with regular customers. For example, when one man bought headache tablets twice on the same day at a branch of the Co-op in Bradford, staff were able to contact his daughter to check everything was okay.

A branch of Tesco in Chester recently became the first in the UK to open a dementia-friendly checkout. The checkout is clutter free and a big sign shows which coin is which and every member of staff who works on the till has attended a dementia workshop.

Car parks

Two car parks in Plymouth have created dementia-friendly parking spaces to help and support people with dementia and their carers. The spaces are on the entry level and are close to the ticket machines and pedestrian exits. Parking staff have also received special training to help understand the parking frustrations faced by carers.

The taxi driver

A taxi company in Salford has trained all its cab drivers in how to recognise signs of dementia and how to assist their passengers. Setting up accounts so that customers with the condition don’t need to fumble with money for their fare, has also proved popular. ‘We have several customers affected by dementia,’ explains Glennys Glover, director of Mainline Seven. ‘We’re simply helping them out.’

The bus company

Dementia-friendly bus transport in Northumberland is allowing people who live in rural areas to travel safely and get practical support if they need it. Bus drivers are being taught to treat passengers who may be hesitant or forget where they’re going, with patience and understanding so they aren’t put off using buses.

The hairdresser

A salon in Bristol has trained its staff to assist customers with dementia who may find a trip to the hairdressers quite stressful, especially if it involves having their hair washed. Hairdresser Julie Lewis from Jayjay’s Hair salon has created a special quiet area in the salon with fewer mirrors and more space so that a friend or carer can sit alongside a person with dementia if they need reassurance and support.

The GP

Visiting the doctor can be daunting enough for someone with dementia without having to negotiate a confusing environment. A GP practice in North Yorkshire has risen to the challenge and created a dementia-friendly surgery to better support people with dementia.

The surgery in Skipton has solid colour flooring, plain coloured walls with contrasting skirtingboards and door frames, improved signage including an image to show the toilet, a dementia friendly clock with clear figures and date, whilst the waiting room contains pictures of familiar local places and objects to bring back happy memories. It’s not only the building that’s changed.

The practice is also working with other organisations to run art classes, vegetable growing and events for families and cares to understand more about dementia.

Schools

Developing dementia awareness in young children is probably one of the best ways to create dementia-friendly communities of the future. With this in mind, a pioneering group of 22 schools and colleges located around England (10 primary and 12 secondary/college) were the first to sign up to develop dementia awareness sessions in which children visited care homes, interviewed older people and learnt more about dementia. More schools and youth groups are now following suit.

Churches

More than 25 churches in the Anglican Diocese of Lichfield, West Midlands, recently took part in a pilot project to create more dementia friendly churches. Accessible buildings, help with transport, user-friendly service sheets and familiar words and music are just a few of the ways they found to make church-going easier and more enjoyable for people with dementia and their carers.

What is your community doing to become more dementia-friendly? We’d love to know - comment below or put a post on our forum.