Developing a dementia-friendly visitor economy

An estimated 46.8 million people are affected by dementia worldwide, a figure expected to double every 20 years reaching around 131.5 million by 2050. In the UK alone, some 850,000 people have a dementia diagnosis.

Research by Professor Stephen Page, Hertfordshire Business School, Dr Joanne Connell, Exeter University Business School and Ian Sheriff, Academic Partnership Lead for Dementia, School of Medicine and Dentistry, Plymouth University, is pioneering our understanding globally of what becoming dementia-friendly means for businesses and organisations in the visitor economy.

Helping people to live well with dementia involves remaining active and the visitor economy, which includes many leisure and tourism businesses, has a key role to play in becoming dementia-friendly to welcome and meet the needs of these visitors.

Their most recent study 'Making the UK visitor economy more dementia-friendly: Lessons from the visitor attraction sector' (PDF - 0.56 Mb) provides headline findings of the first international study focusing on businesses in the visitor economy and development of dementia-friendly initiatives. It highlights that:

  • Businesses in the visitor industry can play a role in helping people ‘live well with dementia’.
  • Constraints and opportunities exist in the visitor economy sector in increasing accessibility to customers with dementia.

The team have also provided advice to businesses in the visitor economy on how to become more dementia-friendly and this can be accessed at:

Developing more Dementia-Friendly Heritage

Professor Page and Dr Connell are also part of a Dementia Friendly Heritage Group working with key heritage stakeholders and the Alzheimers Society with the aim of creating a resource for heritage managers to help the sector develop a more dementia-friendly heritage sector for people with dementia to visit.

Read the report: Rethinking heritage - A guide to help make your site more dementia-friendly (PDF 27.2 Mb)