Dementia Friendly Workplaces

Jacqui Smith from the Haywards Heath Dementia Action Alliance tells us how to make our work places dementia friendly environments, where some simple changes can make a big difference.

Whether at home or at work, a person’s environment will have a massive impact on their health and wellbeing; for someone living with dementia, this is especially significant. There are many different types of dementia, each with differing symptoms but the main challenges are: difficulty in remembering things; struggling to work things out (cognitive impairment); finding it hard to learn new things; the general changes that come with age but a reduced ability to understand them and cope with them and generally heightened levels of stress.

This is by no means an exhaustive list but here are a few suggestions on how changes in the built environment can provide support. People living with dementia need to feel as familiar with their surroundings as possible and clear and easy to understand signage is vital. Ensure that entrances and exits are clearly marked and visible and that routes out as well as in to spaces such as WCs are easy to navigate.

Increasing light levels for somebody with deteriorating vision and dementia can make a world of difference. Maximise natural light by keeping curtains and blinds clear of the window. Paint the room a lighter colour and ensure that it is well lit including task lighting like desk lamps to aid close work. Glare can be an issue whether from sunlight streaming through the window at certain times of the day or an artificial light source with a bulb on show. Both can cause discomfort and disorientation.

A person with dementia may also experience impaired hearing. I know myself how since losing the sight in my left eye, a busy office can have me shutting my eyes before speaking, to enable me to concentrate properly. For a person with dementia too much noise will exacerbate the inability to think, so simply considering the general background noise in an environment and how it might be turned off or down will help a person to formulate thoughts and lessen overwhelm.

Contrasts in floor surfaces can appear like a step to a person with dementia and might cause a person to trip or make them nervous about walking over it. Dark door mats in the hall against a lighter floor can appear like a hole. When considering hard floor surfaces they should be matte to avoid glare; a shiny tiled floor in bright sunlight can look wet and cause confusion. Ideally the flooring throughout a building should be similar in tone regardless of the surface. Colour contrast helps to highlight a switch or rail. Skirting painted to contrast with the floor defines the edges of a corridor and contrast grab rails in WCs makes them easy to see.

Some thought and simple changes to our environment can make a big difference to people with dementia in the workplace.

May19HHDAA

HAYWARDS HEATH DEMENTIA ACTION WEEK

In January of this year, Haywards Heath achieved official Dementia Friendly Community status and has plenty planned for 2019 and beyond. Do come along to some of the gatherings and talks in May to celebrate Dementia Action .

21st May – Memory Moments Café at St Richard’s Church, Sydney Road, Haywards Heath RH16 1QE from 14:00 – 16:00

21st May – Ask the Expert session at the Town Hall, 40 Boltro Rd Haywards Heath RH16 1BA from 18:30 – 20:30 on how businesses can make themselves more dementia friendly

22nd May – Dementia Information Fair at the Town Hall, 40 Boltro Rd Haywards Heath RH16 1BA 13:30 – 14:30

23rd May – The Orchards Shopping Centre, Haywards Heath, Dementia Action Alliance pop-up, 10:00 – 16:00 23rd May – “Making your home more dementia friendly” at Lindfield United Reformed Church, 52 High St, Lindfield, Haywards Heath RH16 2HL from 17:30 – 18:30

May19Dementia dates

For more information or if you would like to get involved, email: dfc@haywardsheath.gov.org You can also follow us on Facebook and Twitter @HaywardsHthDFC

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