Tips to make your organisation more dementia-friendly

Small changes can make a big impact for people living with dementia in your area. But different organisations may need to consider different ways of being dementia-friendly.

A young woman and an older man laughing together

You and your organisation can make a huge difference for people affected by dementia by taking some of the steps outlined in our dementia-friendly resources page.

We also have specific tips and ideas to help different types of organisations consider how they can make their individual services more accessible.

Local arts venues

Everyone should have the opportunity to engage with and participate in the arts. Being dementia-friendly encourages inclusivity and equal access for individuals living with dementia.

Reach out to organisations that work with people living with dementia and their carers to learn from their experiences and collaborate on projects. Explore opportunities for consultation, training, and partnerships to enhance your dementia-friendly initiatives and make necessary adaptations to your programmes and facilities.

Implement small changes that can make a big difference, such as having extra volunteers available, providing a quiet space, or having information available in different formats. These simple adjustments can greatly enhance the experience of individuals with dementia. 

Engage with your wider community and ask people living with dementia and their carers for feedback on how to make your programmes more dementia-friendly. Adapt your language by using simple, short sentences. Avoid using jargon where possible, this will help to make your communication style more inclusive and accessible for all.

Clearly communicate about your adapted programmes to your audience. Consider whether you can make have printed copies of this information available as well as online. 

Collect feedback to understand how to provide a better service to customers with dementia. Continuously evaluate and improve your dementia-friendly initiatives based on the insights gained.

Local cinemas

By creating a dementia-friendly environment and offering dementia-friendly screenings you are helping people living with dementia and their carers to feel welcome, supported, and valued in your cinema.

Some people with dementia find dark environments difficult to navigate and loud noises disorienting. You can help to create a comfortable environment by adjusting lighting and by considering the sound levels.

Give a brief introduction before the screening to provide context and familiarise attendees with the cinema, key staff, and the film they are about to see. This can help individuals with dementia feel more engaged and connected to the experience.

Provide quiet and comfortable breakout spaces for individuals who may need to leave the screening temporarily. This allows them to take a break and then re-join the screening if they wish.

Regularly seek feedback from individuals with dementia, their caregivers, and local dementia experts. Use this feedback to make necessary improvements and adjustments to enhance the dementia-friendly experience in your cinema.

Local emergency services

Being dementia-friendly is important for all local emergency services because individuals with dementia may face unique challenges and vulnerabilities when interacting with emergency responders.

Train your call handlers and staff to communicate clearly, calmly, and patiently with individuals who have dementia. Use short, simple sentences, provide clear instructions, and allow them enough time to process information and respond.

Arrange dementia training for staff members who are interacting directly with people affected by dementia. Alzheimer’s Society offers dementia training specifically designed for the emergency services. 

Make efforts to create a dementia-friendly environment in your public facing facilities. This can include reducing noise and distractions, providing clear signage, and ensuring that spaces are accessible and safe for individuals with dementia.

Work together with local organisations, such as Alzheimer's Society, to ensure that people living with or affected by dementia are aware of the support that your emergency services offer. You can also collaborate with key community stakeholders, such as transport hubs, housing providers, and retailers, to create a network of support for individuals with dementia.

Work in partnership with people living with and affected by dementia to help develop your local work, training and programmes. Their stories and experiences will help to shape the work delivered and promote dementia awareness.

Local faith settings

Faith can play an integral part to the life of someone living with dementia by providing spiritual, emotional and practical support. It can enable people to feel part of their community and create a welcoming and inclusive space.

Acknowledge dementia in services and programming. Uphold positive feelings in the community and change the language around dementia rather than focusing on grief, whilst also being realistic about and the challenges people are facing. Suggest shorter services in your community with familiar songs and prayers specifically for people with dementia.

Places of worship can host support groups for people living with dementia and their carers, providing a safe space to exchange experiences.  Sermons and prayers can also offer hope and support to people affected by dementia.

People with dementia still have a role to play and there are plenty of opportunities within a faith community to participate. For example, helping to maintain the place of worship, helping to serve food or drinks at celebrations, or assisting with services.

Local retail

By taking on dementia friendly actions, retailers can empower more people to access their services and take part in activities that are meaningful to them, helping to retain existing customers, whilst also attracting new ones.

Encourage your staff to communicate clearly, calmly, and patiently with individuals who have dementia. Use short, simple sentences, provide clear instructions, and allow them enough time to process information and respond. 

Make efforts to create a dementia-friendly environment in your facilities. This can include reducing noise and distractions, providing clear signage, and ensuring that spaces are accessible and safe for individuals with dementia. Consider having a ‘slow/quiet shopping’ time once a week for 1-2 hours.

Ensure that employees are aware of local and national accessibility tools, such as the Hidden Disability Sunflower. This can enable customers to discreetly inform staff about their needs, allowing for more personalised support. 

Develop clear procedures for handling complaints and feedback from people affected by dementia. 

Engage with local dementia support organisations, such as Alzheimer’s Society, to understand how the store can better serve the community and help provide information and resources about dementia support services within the local area to customers and employees.

Local schools

Schools can take action by including dementia within their curriculum. Our school teaching resources make it easy to teach and learn about dementia from Key Stage 1 to Key Stage 4. No prior knowledge of dementia is required. All of these resources can be used in classes, assemblies or as homework.

Local sport and physical activity

Physical activity can allow people with dementia to connect with others and offer people an accessible and easy way to become and remain active. Additionally, being more dementia friendly is not only beneficial for people with dementia but also for individuals with other health conditions, helping to create a more inclusive and supportive environment for all.

Make activities accessible to a wide range of people, considering how the environment, programmes, and activities can help people affected by dementia and take action to remove barriers.

Create a supportive environment for people by being patient, understanding and open to conversations. 

Where possible, ensure that policies are designed to safeguard people living with dementia and ensure classes or activities are also accessible for their family members or carers. 

Look at what you already offer and build in some adaptations to make existing physical activities more dementia-friendly. 

Provide information about the programme in dementia-friendly formats – for example, session outlines with timings and photos, specific access information for each activity and general information (such as suggested clothing and contact details). 

Local transport

Public transport can be a lifeline to many people. People with dementia face challenges with memory, thinking, concentration and language. This makes it more difficult for them to do everyday tasks we might take for granted and to engage with their community.

Give people time to find the right method of payment when boarding or checking route information. Patience and understanding can help people living with dementia feel comfortable and use public transport services more often.

Keep passengers informed when routes are disrupted or changed. Answer any queries and provide information on where to go to get support.

If you see someone who looks like they might need extra support approaching the train or bus stop, use the lower step or ramp facility. This can make someone feel more confident and at ease when getting on and off.

Give passengers time to clear the doors and sit down before departing. A few extra seconds can make people more comfortable and help minimise injuries on the service.

Support passengers by signposting priority seating when available and familiarise yourself with any badges, cards, and local accessibility schemes.

Put your passengers at ease by being friendly, making eye contact, and smiling when they are boarding the service This can make them feel valued and make you more aware of everyone getting on.

Dementia-friendly guides for organisations

Make your organisation more dementia-friendly with our specialist guides, including sector-specific information

Read our guides