On the day that writer Sir Terry Pratchett died of a form of Alzheimer’s disease, the announcement the Festival and King's Theatres are to receive a £320,000 boost to help turn them into dementia friendly venues is especially poignant. The money that comes from the Life Changes Trust will help the theatres create accommodating venues where people with dementia and those who care for them can comfortably be part of the theatre-going community.
The plan is to make the venues safer and more welcoming to these special audiences as well as adapting existing theatre programmes and adding new shows specifically for those affected by the condition. Festival and King's are already leaders in this initiative with a special performance of A Clean Sweep devised by Plutôt La Vie theatre company. Dementia training will be provided to all staff and visiting theatre companies with dementia champions being recruited. Festival and King's Theatres hope they will be seen as a beacon to other similar venues to follow their example in this worthy venture.
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...’
In Scotland it is estimated that around 88,000 people have dementia, a figure that is increasing due to an ageing population. Family carers and friends carry much of the financial burden of looking after victims of this disease as well as experiencing some social isolation themselves so this initiative is positive news for all concerned.