Memory-Friendly Neighbourhoods

Memory-Friendly Neighbourhoods was a knowledge exchange programme with the University of Stirling exploring how local communities can support people with dementia.

Quick facts

What was this research about?

The number of people affected by dementia in the UK is projected to rise steadily to over 1.7m by 2051. While the concept of ‘dementia-friendly communities’ is steadily gaining traction in policy, many people with dementia still report feeling isolated from places, services and activities in their local neighbourhood.

Memory-Friendly Neighbourhoods brought design and place researchers from OPENspace together with dementia researchers at the University of Stirling. The programme was designed to meet the urgent need for insights to guide the development of environments for ageing-in-place and lifelong social inclusion for people affected by dementia.

Phase One of Memory-Friendly Neighbourhoods ran from June to December 2014. Over the course of two events, we exchanged ideas and best practice with experts from around the world, demonstrated more inclusive ways of sharing experiences with people with dementia, and developed a network of people with related expertise which continues to thrive online.

One particularly successful aspect of the work was an on-site exercise in the town of Kirkintilloch near Glasgow. With the support of the local Council, we walked the town centre with a group of people affected by dementia, exploring how memory impacts on route-finding, and mapping aspects of the environment which either challenged them or made life easier.

Phase Two of Memory-Friendly Neighbourhoods was granted funding in February 2016. Known as MFN ii – the Virtual Neighbourhood, this phase explored how people living with dementia find their way around the internet.

The work directly addressed the knowledge gaps we identified, in Phase One, around digital exclusion and dementia. Again, OPENspace worked with the University of Stirling, taking the same innovative, practical approach to knowledge exchange that underpinned our work in Kirkintilloch.

Who worked on Memory-Friendly Neighbourhoods?

OPENspace research team:

Catharine Ward Thompson
Máire Cox

Other academic partners:

Richard Ward, University of Stirling
Centre for Dementia Research, University of Linkoping (Phase One)
University of the West of Scotland (Phase Two)

Public, policy and not-for-profit partners:

Phase One: Alzheimer Scotland; Anderson Bell Christie architects; Architecture and Design Scotland. Phase Two: Age Scotland; East Dunbartonshire Council; Life Changes Trust.

Who funded this research?

Memory-Friendly Neighbourhoods was funded by the Scottish Universities Insight Institute. The Institute supports programmes of knowledge exchange which address and provide insight on substantial issues that face Scotland and the wider world.

Where can I find out more?

Memory-Friendly Neighbourhoods has its own website where you can watch and listen to recordings from our knowledge exchange events and read written summaries of our group discussions.

Visit the Memory-Friendly Neighbourhoods website

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