Norwich-based architectural firm pledges support to making city dementia friendly

Gitte Kjeldsen Highland, director of Chaplin Farrant. Photo: Chaplin Farrant

Gitte Kjeldsen Highland, director of Chaplin Farrant. Photo: Chaplin Farrant - Credit: Chaplin Farrant

Architectural practice, Chaplin Farrant is the latest business to join a campaign bidding to make Norwich a dementia-friendly city by 2018, improving the lives of people living with dementia.

Dementia Friendly Norwich, run by the Norwich City Dementia Action Alliance aims to heighten awareness around dementia within the city. It also aims to inspire local organisations to pledge their support and actively make changes to enhance the quality of life of people living with dementia.

The campaign now has over 50 local organisations on board including Archant, John Lewis, Jarrold, Greater Anglia and now Chaplin Farrant who are the first architectural firm to sign up.

The multi-disciplinary consultancy pledged their support after Age UK, one of the founding members of the Dementia Action Alliance, approached them to advise other companies on making physical changes to their properties. The changes aim to make the spaces in which these businesses operate more dementia-friendly.

Chaplin Farrant's specialist healthcare team is providing simple, clear advice to local companies who may be challenged by understanding dementia friendly design.

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Other ways in which the company are supporting the Dementia Friendly Norwich campaign includes:

• Ensuring the architectural designs Chaplin Farrant provides are physically suitable for people living with dementia.

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• Providing professional advice to clients, ensuring all aspects of creating a dementia friendly environment are considered.

• Internally raising awareness of dementia-friendly design as well as raising awareness to the business and construction community.

Gitte Kjeldsen Highland, director of Chaplin Farrant, said: 'Creating a dementia-friendly space is usually possible with a few additions and tweaks. It is the unknown and the unfamiliar which provides the challenges for people living with dementia.

'As an architect I try to imagine how I would find the bathroom if I was dropped right here with no previous knowledge of where the bathroom is and not remembering which direction I came from. We can't make it perfect, but we can make it a lot better'.

Dan Skipper, chief operating officer at Age UK added font style, size and colour of signage can all have an impact. He said: 'Things like calligraphy and italics can also prove difficult to read, or writing on reflective materials, without an appropriate contrast.'

Further considerations include keeping a space less busy, keeping layouts simple with visuals cues as to their use, making sure environments are not harmful as well as contrast and lighting.

Any Action Alliance company wanting free advice on dementia-friendly design can call Gitte at Chaplin Farrant on 01603 700000.

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