Guide: How To Make Your Space Dementia Friendly


How to design dementia friendly spaces


Dementia care is a huge part of Bright Care so naturally, accessibility for people with dementia is an important matter for us. With the Edinburgh Festival Fringe coming up, we’ve put together a Dementia-friendly map of Edinburgh and a short guide on how you can make your retail or events space more dementia friendly. 


Small changes to layout, signage, or customer service can go a long way in reducing stress or confusion for people living with dementia. Research has shown that almost 80% of people with dementia listed shopping as their favourite activity. However, 63% of people surveyed didn’t think that shops were doing enough to help people with dementia (Alzheimer’s Society, 2013). 

If you take onboard some of the ideas in this post, you can make a big difference for people living with dementia and their carers. It will also help pave the way to a better customer experience and a more comfortable visit for your customers.


Who is this guide for?

  • Event Venues
  • Cafés
  • Art Venues
  • Restaurants
  • Shops

What is dementia?

Dementia is an umbrella term that describes a group of symptoms associated with a decline in memory or other thinking skills. 

Alzheimer’s disease is the most common cause of dementia, accounting for circa 60-80% of cases. It’s estimated that there are around 850,000 people in the UK living with dementia. By 2025, this figure is estimated to have increased to around 1 million.

Symptoms of dementia can vary greatly, and can be severe enough to reduce a person’s ability to perform everyday tasks. For example, people living with dementia may have problems with short-term memory, keeping track of a purse or wallet, paying bills, planning or preparing meals, remembering appointments or travelling out of the neighbourhood.


What makes a space dementia friendly?

In short, there are 2 main areas to consider: People and Environment.


Your members of staff can be an invaluable asset for your organisation, and good customer service can be key to helping somebody live well with dementia. Here are a few tips to help your staff deliver a more dementia-friendly service.

  • Allow the person to take their time.
  • Understand how they might be feeling.
  • Be friendly and smiley.
  • Consider their feelings and respond to the emotions they are expressing.
  • Ask direct questions. For example, ‘Is there someone you would like me to call?’ rather than ‘What would you like me to do?’
  • Avoid information that is too long or that contains too much jargon.

You may not always be able to tell if someone is living with dementia, but by being observant and aware of certain signs, your staff can be better equipped to offer a helping hand. Let your staff know it might be worth doing so if they see someone:

  • Standing still at the same place for a long duration of time.
  • Giving their whole wallet when they are paying.
  • Repeatedly buying unusually large quantities of the same product.
  • Having difficulties expressing themselves or saying what they need.
  • Appearing lost or confused.
  • Forgetting to pay for goods or products.


The second area to consider is the environment. Below are some ideas of potential areas to address. 

Ideas for making your space dementia friendlyIdeas for making your space dementia friendly

Features of a dementia-friendly organisation

(From “On the journey to becoming a dementia-friendly organisation” by JRF )

  • Provides information and awareness-raising activities for all staff.
  • Provides appropriate training to enable staff to respond empathically and positively to people living with dementia.
  • A proactive approach to supporting customers who are affected by dementia.
  • Commitment to making the physical environment as dementia-friendly as possible.
  • Supporting staff who care for someone with dementia in their personal lives.

As you work towards becoming dementia friendly, remember that…

  • It doesn’t mean having to prioritise dementia over other conditions or disabilities
  • It doesn’t mean you are expected to become dementia friendly from day one (it’s a process and a commitment)
  • It doesn’t mean that you have to identify customers who have dementia
  • It doesn’t mean that you have to ask customers difficult or intrusive questions
  • It doesn’t mean that you should ignore regular processes or procedures related to security or accessibility

Dementia-friendly Edinburgh Fringe

Over the next few months, we will be working on further resources for making spaces dementia-friendly.

For more resources and guides, visit our knowledge centre. If you want to find out more about our dementia care service, click here.

Bright Care’s dementia care services

With the high quality home care we provide, there is no need for someone living with dementia to move into a care home.  Our tailored care at home service revolves entirely around our clients and what is best for them. Get in touch today to find out more about our dementia home care services.

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