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Visit Scotland | Alba
Article published 03/10/2019

Dementia-friendly Tourism Guide launched

Together with VisitEngland, we’ve launched a new guide to help businesses become more dementia-friendly.

The Dementia-friendly Tourism Guide, launched in partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society with the support of Alzheimer Scotland, aims to support tourism businesses in accommodating visitors living with dementia through top tips, case studies and signposts to additional resources.

It highlights the need for increasing employee awareness and understanding, and how to make physical environments and facilities more accessible for these visitors.

The guide, available here on VisitScotland.org, provides information about dementia and lists the various benefits that businesses will experience by catering for this market. It shows that improvements do not need to involve significant investment and changes to infrastructure, highlighting the small steps businesses can take, organised around the themes of Information, People and Place.

Dementia is a syndrome associated with an ongoing decline of brain functioning. It’s not a natural part of the ageing process and, while there are different types of dementia, the most common form is Alzheimer’s disease. It is a hidden disability, which means that it is often not visibly apparent that a person has dementia.

There are around 90,000 people living with dementia in Scotland. The Scottish Government estimate around 20,000 people will be newly diagnosed with the condition during 2020. Visitors with dementia face a number of challenges including having the confidence to travel, trying to communicate in noisy environments and becoming disorientated when navigating new places or long routes.

By becoming dementia-friendly, a business will experience many benefits including:

  • Increased revenue and competitive advantage: Research shows that 83% of people with memory problems have switched their shopping habits to places that are more accessible and the ‘dementia pound’ is expected to rise to £23 billion by 2020.
  • Improved customer service and enhanced reputation: Increased knowledge and awareness of dementia will make staff more confident when dealing with all types of visitors and becoming dementia-friendly will help businesses demonstrate that they are socially responsible. 
  • Improved seasonal spread: People with dementia may prefer to book ‘out of season’, as places are likely to be less busy and staff may be able to give them more time and attention.
  • Future-proofing: The number of domestic holidays taken by visitors over the age of 55 continues to increase, with a 43% uplift between 2006 and 2018.

Under the Equality Act 2010, organisations have a legal obligation to ensure consumers are adequately protected and that access to services is as inclusive as possible. This includes making ‘reasonable adjustments’ for customers and staff with disabilities, including people with dementia.

Leading dementia charity, Alzheimer’s Society, is at the forefront of the biggest ever social action movement in dementia – Alzheimer’s Society’s Dementia Friends, which aims to transform the way the nation thinks, acts and talks about the condition.

The UK tourism industry has demonstrated its commitment to accessibility in the Tourism Sector Deal, pledging to make the UK the most accessible tourism destination in Europe by 2025.

Dementia Friends Scotland is an Alzheimer Scotland initiative to raise awareness of dementia and reduce stigma. Anybody can become a Scottish Dementia Friend. It’s just about understanding a bit more about dementia and the small things you can do to help people living with dementia.

With the right support and understanding, people can live well with dementia and contribute to their local community. By taking part in Dementia Friends Scotland, you can learn a little about what it’s like to live with dementia and turn that understanding into action.

The guide was created in partnership with Alzheimer’s Society. To learn more about Alzheimer’s Society, go to alzheimers.org.uk. It is also supported by Alzheimer Scotland. To find out more, go to alzscot.org.