£320,000 boost for Dementia Friendly theatres in Edinburgh

Two of Edinburgh’s most famous theatres have been given funding to help turn them into dementia friendly venues.

The two theatres – the Festival and the King’s – want to create dementia friendly venues so that people with dementia and those who care for them can continue to be part of the theatre-going community, enjoy participating in the arts and mix with their peers.

[pictured left: Christine Macleod at the dementia friendly pilot event at the Fstival Theatre on 17 February 2015]

The two theatres plan to use the funding to make the building environments safer and more welcoming for people with dementia, to programme a series of shows specifically for those affected by dementia, and adapt existing theatre programmes to be more dementia friendly.

They will also provide dementia training to all their staff, as well as visiting theatre companies, and will recruit dementia champions.

With the support of the funding, the King’s and Festival theatres want to become exemplars so that other theatres and similar venues remain accessible to people whose lives are affected by dementia.

Funding has come from the Life Changes Trust, an independent charity set up with a Big Lottery Fund endowment of £50 million to improve the lives of two key groups in Scotland: people affected by dementia and care experienced young people. The Trust will be investing £3million in 14 different dementia friendly communities over the next three years.

Duncan Hendry, Chief Executive at the Festival and King’s Theatres said: ‘We are delighted that our application to the Life Changes Trust to create a Dementia-friendly community across our two theatres has been successful. We look forward to working with people with dementia and their families to address what the barriers to accessing venues like ours might be, so that we can create welcoming and supportive social environments in our theatres. Our staff fully support the creation of a dementia-friendly community at our venues and we are keen to take an industry lead in Scotland to encourage other theatres to adopt dementia-friendly practices.’

Anna Buchanan, Director of the Life Changes Trust dementia programme said ‘Many people living with dementia stop taking part in activities that may have given them great pleasure in the past, or which allowed them to mix with their peers. Initiatives like these bring people together in a dementia friendly community of interest where they have opportunities to be part of something that is meaningful to them. This funding will support the theatres to create an environment where people affected by dementia feel welcome and included; a place where the door remains open and does not close just because someone has dementia.’

In Scotland:

• It is estimated that around 88,000 people have dementia
• The number of people with dementia in Scotland is increasing, because the population is getting older. Based on current dementia prevalence rates, the number of people with dementia in Scotland is projected to double by 2038*.
• Much of that financial burden falls on family carers and friends, who may also experience social isolation, exhaustion and health problems associated with the demands of caring.
• Dementia costs the country more than cancer, heart disease and stroke put together.

The Life Changes Trust is committed to funding and supporting the development of Dementia Friendly Communities across Scotland and to supporting transformational improvements in the quality of life, well-being, empowerment and inclusion of people affected by dementia – both those who have dementia and those who care for them.

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