Some of Britain’s best loved historic and countryside sites are to be given dementia-friendly makeovers - thanks to a pioneering collaboration between two charities, it was announced on Monday.
Struggling to get into venues, being overwhelmed by exhibition texts and leaflets and having difficulty with payment methods are some of the challenges facing dementia sufferers at historic venues.
Now, clearer signage and modified materials used on paths and car parks at 500 sites in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, are among the initiatives in the National Trust and the Alzheimer’s Society’s three-year project.
Under plans, heritage will also be taken into local care homes, hospitals, day centres and community groups.
It’s hoped that historic spaces, collections and stories will stimulate discussion and memories.
Alzheimer’s is a degenerative disease of the brain that causes dementia, leading to a gradual loss of memory and the ability to function.
Some 850,000 Britons are living with dementia - and numbers are expected to reach one million by 2025, according to a 2015 Alzheimer Society report.
Tiger de Souza, volunteering and inclusion director at the National Trust, said: “We know that our natural and historic places can play a significant role in improving the wellbeing of people living with dementia.
“A number of our sites already offer great experiences for people living with dementia, and through this landmark partnership we aim to extend those benefits to many more people.”
The Farming Memories Group, in Wimpole, Cambridge, and Back to Backs, a monthly meet-up where past eras are recreated at historic houses in Birmingham, are among the dementia-friendly work underway at the National Trust.
Launched at the end of World Alzheimer’s Month, the project will give the Trust’s 9,000 staff and 65,000 volunteers the opportunity to join Alzheimer Society’s three million Dementia Friends - people who learn about dementia so they can help their community.
An estimated 74,000 National Trust employees and volunteers will receive training.
Jeremy Hughes, Alzheimer’s Society’s chief executive, said: “It’s great to have the National Trust encouraging people with dementia to feel confident in getting out and about in their local community.
“Visiting a heritage site can improve physical and mental health by helping people keep active.”