Castle Dene on its way to becoming one of Durham’s first ‘dementia friendly’ shopping centres

28th July 2019

A shopping centre in the heart of Peterlee is working with the Alzheimer’s Society to offer more support to shoppers living with dementia.

Castle Dene’s management, cleaning and security teams have undergone special training to become ‘Dementia Friends’ to help them understand and be able to deal with the needs of those with dementia.

Dementia is a progressive illness caused by destruction of brain cells which gives rise to several symptoms including the gradual loss of memory, reasoning and communication skills. Dementia Friends help by raising awareness and understanding so that people living with dementia can continue to live in the way they want.

Suzanne Chaney, centre manager at Castle Dene, says the training sessions gave her team real food for thought about the daily struggles of people living with or affected by the illness.

Suzanne said: “Nearly everyone that you speak to has been affected by dementia in some way, whether it is through a grandparent, parent or friend. Castle Dene is committed to becoming a dementia friendly shopping centre to ensure that we’re equipped to welcome all of our visitors.

“We will be carrying out an audit of the centre which will highlight what changes and practical steps we can implement to create a more dementia friendly shopping experience, such as improved lighting, signage and seating for example.

“Our journey to become a dementia friendly shopping centre is ongoing but the training has really shown how passionate all our staff are about making Castle Dene accessible to all.

“One of the team will be undertaking further training to become a Dementia Champion, which means they can run their own information sessions within the shopping centre to help our retailers and people within local community become Dementia Friends as well.”