Scottish ministers urged to draw up dementia-friendly register

The Festival Theatre in Edinburgh is trying to cater for people with dementia. Picture: Ian Rutherford
The Festival Theatre in Edinburgh is trying to cater for people with dementia. Picture: Ian Rutherford
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The Scottish Government has been urged to set up a register of dementia-friendly destinations to help patients and boost the tourism sector.

The Scottish Conservatives believe a register would enable attractions to become accredited sites for people with conditions like Alzheimer’s, as well as their carers.

With an estimated 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK, the move could boost visitor numbers for a range of businesses.

Shadow culture secretary Rachael Hamilton came up with the plan after submitting a written question to the Scottish Government, asking if it had a register of specific dementia-friendly locations. She was told no such list existed.

Hamilton said the Scottish Government could support businesses to embark on a range of measures to make their attraction more accessible for dementia suffers.

That could include the creation of a quiet room for patients to take a “time out” during a visit; creating clearer signs for directions and advice; and changing the colour of doors to make them easier to locate.

Experts have also suggested hosting memory cafes and workshops, and organising bespoke tours for care homes as ways to help patients and carers.

Some attractions, including the King’s and Festival theatres in Edinburgh, are trying to be more dementia-friendly.

Hamilton said: “Creating a list of accredited dementia-friendly tourist sites would be of benefit to everyone. It would make a day out or short holiday for those living with the condition far more accessible and enjoyable, and of course would be of benefit to their carers.”

Henry Simmons, chief executive of Alzheimer Scotland, said: “We welcome any initiative that would improve quality of life for people with dementia, their carers, partners and families.

“Alzheimer Scotland’s ultimate goal is for every person with dementia to enjoy a dementia-friendly approach in all aspects of our communities.

“Significant and substantial developments in this area have been made through our own Dementia Friends programme and the work of Dementia Friendly Community projects across Scotland.”

A Scottish Government spokesman said: “The Scottish Government is taking a lead on tackling the effects of dementia and our new strategy states our commitment to creating more dementia-enabled communities.

“VisitScotland already encourages businesses to think about a wider audience when they are writing their access guidance, which is a tool to highlight visitor accessibility.”