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By Science Museum Group on

Being Dementia Friendly

Today (Tuesday 21 September) is World Alzheimer’s Day. To mark the day, we asked colleagues at the Science Museum and National Railway Museum to share more about our commitment to being Dementia Friendly.

Heather Lysiak, Community Partnerships and Events Manager, National Railway Museum

The National Railway Museum is undergoing a transformational development, Vision 2025, which will create new spaces for communities in our city centre location and provide an exciting new offer for visitors.

Within Vision 2025, we are exploring how to best serve our existing and future audiences, including people living with dementia. We’re working in partnership with communities and professionals to understand what we can do to go above and beyond the basics of what people living with dementia want and need to have the best possible experience with us.

Here’s a snapshot of work already underway.

We are deepening colleagues’ understanding by running Dementia Friends sessions through the Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends programme.

Sessions explore what dementia is (and isn’t), break down stereotypes, and prompt colleagues to take action to be more dementia-friendly. Our ambition is to offer this session to all colleagues as part of our wider inclusion and diversity training offer.

Work is underway to develop a dementia-friendly activity programme, to become part of the National Railway Museum’s standard offer. Initial ideas include café events in the museum, activity facilitation in healthcare settings, and activity bag distribution to residential homes.

We are already working with a number of charity and healthcare professionals to support our research and development, and look forward to exploring ideas further with people living with dementia and their networks in the coming months.

We are also delighted to have a professional with expertise in dementia on our Vision 2025 Access Panel, managed by our independent access consultants from CCD Design & Ergonomics.

We realise that there is still lots to do, but are excited to have taken the first steps in becoming more dementia-friendly and look forward to continuing this work.

Visitors from the A4D Inspirations group take part in a workshop at the Science Museum.
Visitors from the A4D Inspirations group take part in a workshop at the Science Museum.

Sevinc Kisacik, Community Partnerships Producer, Science Museum

In May 2021, the Science Museum pledged its support for the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan’s first Dementia Friendly Venue Charter for cultural public spaces. This is a city-wide initiative to ensure that every Londoner with dementia, their carers and personal assistants have a dementia friendly cultural venue on their doorstep.

It aims to transform cultural venues for people living with dementia through a range of dementia-friendly resources including inclusive performances, dedicated relaxed sessions, clear signage, designated chill-out zones and staff training.

To kick start our pledge we have started planning our ‘Health and Wellbeing’ offer.

To coincide with World Alzheimer’s Day, members of the Learning Team will be undertaking Dementia Friends Awareness training. This will help colleagues to reflect on how we can provide a welcoming environment for any visitors living with dementia, how to support them in their visit and instill confidence in staff.

We understand that not all visitors can visit our sites, so we have a series of offsite trips to visit memory cafés in our surrounding local boroughs.

Memory cafés are social sessions where people living with dementia can take part in discussions, activities, workshops, have time for them and their networks to try something a bit different, or just simply give them a change of environment. It provides an important supportive atmosphere where they can meet others that might have similar experiences to them.

The Science Museum is developing these offsite sessions so that we can bring our collection to life while creating links to our newest permanent galleries, Medicine: The Wellcome Galleries.

We hope to run these sessions in Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, as well as at memory cafés we had previously visited before the pandemic to continue building these relationship.

A visitor from the A4D Inspirations group takes part in a workshop at the Science Museum.
A visitor from the A4D Inspirations group takes part in a workshop at the Science Museum.

If you would like to discuss our work or help us to support audiences living with dementia, please contact us via [email protected] with the subject line: Dementia friendly query.