Dementia Friendly Community

September 22nd 2016

Beamish is working with the local area to help create a Dementia Friendly Community.

Beamish staff and volunteers wearing their Dementia Friends badges

People and organisations in Stanley, County Durham, are working towards the Alzheimer’s Society’s initiative to help people living with dementia.

Michelle Kindleysides, Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator at the museum, is the lead community contact for the project but it is hoped a community-led steering group will be created over the next few months.

Beamish has 260 Dementia Friends among staff and volunteers and hosts sessions at Orchard Cottage, at The 1940s Farm, for older people and people living with dementia, and their families and carers.

Michelle said: “We are working with other organisations, businesses and groups across Stanley with an aim of becoming recognised as a Dementia Friendly Community. Our application to start the recognition process has been accepted so we are now about to start the exciting process!

“We’re trying to bring the community together, to help people understand, recognise and help those living with dementia. It’s also about including people with dementia and helping them to continue to enjoy their lives.”

There are already lots of fantastic examples of individuals, businesses and organisations in Stanley going the extra mile to support people living with dementia, such as the Louisa Centre, Stanley Travel and Durham Police.

Michelle said: “We’re not asking members of the community to be able to diagnose people with dementia, we’re simply asking people to just be patient and understanding. To wear a Dementia Friends badge, the more people who wear them, the more people with dementia feel reassured.”

When asked why the museum is involved, Michelle said: “We’ve done so much work at Beamish we wanted to share the enthusiasm and experience with Stanley. It’s on our doorstep and we are part of our community.”

The project will last three to five years. The first year will include Dementia Friends sessions and information sessions about how to create more dementia-friendly environments, showing people that small changes make a big difference.

Michelle said: “The ultimate aim is for those living with dementia in Stanley to be able to live well and feel part of the community and for the community to be able to support them.”

Michelle and Tanya Wills, Assistant Health and Wellbeing Co-ordinator at the museum, have developed the Health and Wellbeing programmes at Beamish. A lot of this work involves holding group activities at the museum for people living with dementia and providing support for carers too.

The Dementia Friendly Communities programme aims to create communities around the UK which make daily living and activities easier and more accessible to people living with dementia.

Beamish is also a member of the Dementia Action Alliance, which is a coalition of organisations across England committed to transforming the lives of people with dementia and those who care for them.

An information session on the Dementia Friendly Community initiative is being held at the Stanley Civic Centre on Monday, 3rd October, 5.30pm-7.30pm (with a 6pm start), pop along to find out more or contact Michelle, email: