Rethinking Heritage : A guide to help make your site more dementia-friendly
Page, Stephen J.
Enjoyable activities, feeling welcome at heritage sites, having fun, meeting new people during a trip to a beautiful place. Sounds great, doesn’t it? Whilst most of us expect these opportunities to be available for children as part of formal or informal learning, growing evidence1 shows that having access to high quality cultural activities is important for all age groups, especially people with ill health such as dementia2. You may already be aware of imaginative, co-produced heritage projects involving people living with dementia, carers, friends and family taking place across the UK. These inspiring partnerships in parks, museums and many other visitor attractions, both outside and indoors, all promote enjoyable, active learning and also improve our sense of connectedness with each other. But what are the aims of these projects? What are the challenges? How can we learn with each other, including people living with dementia to make active partnerships sustainable and truly participatory? What does success look like and how can we demonstrate this success? This resource is the result of the generous sharing of expertise in making heritage sites more dementia-friendly. Contributions have been made by both individuals and organisations, underpinned by the recognition of inclusion as an active process yet to be perfected. The resource is a result of meetings in 2016-17 by heritage professionals and allies at the Alzheimer’s Society, Scouts Association and many others. Everyone involved in producing this resource recognises the challenges as well as opportunities in effective partnership working - and the finite limits of local and national funding contexts. As a funder, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is proud to have inclusion as an organisational priority and is active in building inclusive heritage ambition, both within HLF and with our grantees3. We recognise the process of achieving inclusive heritage where people living with dementia are welcomed, is not only based on funding but relies on senior, strategic commitment from heritage organisations. We know that participatory heritage projects also require support and knowledge from health charities, local Dementia Friends networks, local businesses and other partners to embed sustainable best practice for everyone. This resource is ambitious but also realistic. All contributors recognise that for dementia friendly heritage sites to develop, an active dialogue is required. The benefits to be had from connecting with each other through enjoyable, sociable activities in amazing heritage places have never been clearer!