Changes to public toilets help people living with dementia

Lisa Waldcock, Councillor Lynda Bowyer and Claire Puckey outside Armada Way toilets

Small changes are helping to make a big difference for people living with dementia in Plymouth, ‘Dementia-Friendly City of the Year’.

A number of alterations have been made to public toilets by the Council to make them dementia-friendly in Armada Way, Elphinstone, the Barbican, the Council House, the Guildhall and the toilets at West Hoe. The changes involve:

  • Installing new signage on a yellow background and using bold black typeface so they are clear to see and easily identifiable as a sign
  • Pictures and text as abstract symbols can cause difficulties in understanding for some people living with dementia
  • Instructions on how to use items to help recognition of objects e.g. hand-drier, soap dispenser
  • Including way-marking signage to allow users to orientate themselves and find their way out
  • Mirrors can cause distress to some people with dementia who may no longer recognise their own reflection and may think that there is a stranger in the room with them, where possible mirrors will be repositioned to be less intrusive.
  • Creating contrast in colours where possible to make it easier for some people with dementia to differentiate between things

Councillor Lynda Bowyer, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, said: “This is what being dementia-friendly city of the year is all about. It is about making small changes that could make a big difference to support people living with dementia.

“Most people would not think twice about using public toilets, but for anyone who has dementia or looks after someone with dementia these small measures can make all the difference. Putting people at ease and making them feel more confident and more independent makes a huge difference to their daily life.”

The changes follow a number of innovations to make Plymouth more dementia friendly including dementia friendly car parking spaces, shopping days and dementia awareness sessions, Singing for the Brain and a Dementia Friendly Toolkit for local organisations.

To find out more email Claire Puckey, Dementia Friendly City Co-ordinator