Northern Ireland's dementia-friendly barber is a cut above

Lenny White's dementia-friendly barber business is proving a big hit in Northern Ireland, and he's now setting his sights on the rest of the UK.

Lenny the dementia-friendly barber

For people living with dementia, remaining independent and participating in local communities can be both daunting and frustrating.

Our statistics show that less than half (47%) of people living with dementia feel a part of their community, while over a quarter (28%) say they have given up even getting out of the house. So whether it’s a bank, library or local shop, dementia-friendly businesses clearly have a huge role to play.

Meet the dementia-friendly barber

Enter Lenny White, 35, the mobile barber from Northern Ireland who has made it his mission to make a difference for the men living with dementia in his local area.

Having previously worked in a nursing home kitchen, Lenny noticed that the hairdressing services were often more tailored towards women – from the lighting and decor to the general conversation.

‘Men love getting together with other men and having a bit of banter,’ says Lenny. ‘Just because someone has dementia, it doesn't mean they have to lose out on things like this.’

dementia-friendly barber, Lenny White

Lenny’s mobile barber shop provides one solution, bringing haircuts to the homes of those who aren’t able to get to their local barber shop.

Whether it’s a care home, day centre, hospital or residential setting, Lenny recreates the traditional barber shop experience and helps restore some dignity to his customers.

As well as barber shop signs, old photographs and hot towels, Lenny also brings along an old jukebox so that his customers can sing along to the classics.

‘When my clients come into the barber room they hear the music and smell the different scents and it seems to instantly relax them. I play Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra and have many a sing song with my clients - it’s amazing to watch.’

Becoming a Dementia Friend

While Lenny admits to knowing ‘very little’ about about dementia beforehand, he’s since become a Dementia Friend and enrolled in specialist dementia training through Alzheimer’s Society and Dementia Friendly Holywood.

He also says he’s learned a lot from the people living with dementia whose hair he cuts. ‘I’ve learned to meet them where they’re at. I’m usually quite a fast person, always go go go, and since starting my business and working with people with dementia I am learning to slow way down, be patient and talk them through it.’

‘Every business should be dementia friendly.’

Since his first care home visit at Bangor’s Kingsland Care Centre, Lenny’s mobile barber business is growing fast. He’s now setting his sights on the rest of the UK, and encouraging other businesses to become more inclusive for people living with dementia.

‘Dementia is just so common nowadays,’ he says. ‘Every business should be dementia friendly.’

Is your business dementia friendly?

Whether an employee, manager or business owner, find out how you can help enable people affected by dementia to live well in their community:

For more information on Lenny's mobile barber business, visit his Facebook page

6 comments

Add your own

Here in Ludlow, a dementia friendly town, we have a branch of Costa. It is fairly large and has an array of table and chairs, not regimented as many I've seen and some not very loud music. It's big assets are the opening times: 6.30am to 6.30pm and its staff. My husband, with Alzheimer's ,goes there every day by himself and the staff seem to care about him. I occasionally visit and find their caring attitude very pleasing. He goes out for the newspapers each morning and then on to Costa and is happy to meet my friends who acost him, though he never knows them. I just hope he is safe without me. He has his own set of acquaintances in Costa.

Lenny whites this is an amazing thing to do for a people that is suffering with dementia.

we offend forget their humans too and have needs and wants like everyone else getting a hair cut might mean nothing for some but this will bounce their confidence, and help them.

this just has not changed the people with dementia but himself aswel we here at secure healthcare solutions west midlands believe thats the best help you can offer is by changing yourself in the process.

tamika wade says
13/06/2017 at 6:56 am

Lenny whites this is an amazing thing to do for a people that is suffering with dementia.

we offend forget their humans too and have needs and wants like everyone else getting a hair cut might mean nothing for some but this will bounce their confidence, and help them.

this has not changed the people with dementia but himself aswel we here at secure healthcare solutions west midlands believe thats the best help you can offer someone will resulting in you finding yourself in the process.

Thank you very much. Yes you are so right. My business offers a relaxed environment with old music playing on my jukebox and we all have a sing a long at times.

These men just love getting pampered and getting together with other men. It's so important and lifts the mens spirit's. My fb is lenny the mobile barber like and share x

Thank you very much. Yes you are so right. My business offers a relaxed environment with old music playing on my jukebox and we all have a sing a long at times.

These men just love getting pampered and getting together with other men. It's so important and lifts the mens spirit's. My fb is lenny the mobile barber like and share x

What a great service to provide. My 58 year old husband with dementia still enjoys going to his local barbers - they look after him well and play music he loves - reggae and rock. It won't be long however before this becomes impossible as his mobility is deteriorating rapidly. My shaving technique and hair cutting just isn't the same quality!
If you find yourself in rural Cheshire please look us up!

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