Restaurants and cafes are failing to make people with dementia feel welcome, research says

Some restaurants and cafes are failing people with dementia because of loud noise, confusing signs and impatient staff, new research says.

Dr. Adelina Broadbridge says that although outlets are adapting slowly, they are still missing business opportunities, given the large number of people with the condition.

Dr. Broadbridge, of the University of Stirling, will give details of research on the issue to the British Academy of Management’s annual conference in Birmingham today [Wednesday 4 September 2019]. She carried out the research with David Johnston, of the University of Stirling.

They spoke to carers in two towns and found that all had negative experiences of service in some cafes and restaurants. The people with dementia they were caring for found the signs and layout confusing, the lighting too dim, the noise too loud or the staff impatient if they took too long paying.

“A business case exists for outlets to ensure their products and services are dementia-friendly—mechanical factors such as lighting, contrasting colors, clearer signs and non-slip floors would help to create a dementia-friendly environment,” said the researchers.

“Factors in quality service such as employees taking time, listening carefully and watching their own body language can make a huge difference in helping customers with dementia feel at ease and socially included.

“Businesses should realize that creating a dementia friendly environment in turn can be profitable. As the number of people with dementia looks set to reach one million by 2020, cafes and restaurants will inevitably see a rise in customers suffering from the disease.

“Overall the findings showed the prevalence and persistence of social stigma in today’s society towards dementia.

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