Sarah Phillips joined other professionals taking part in a dementia workshop at Tyneside Cinema in June, forming part of the 2019 TICE (This is Creative Enterprise) programme.

Sarah talking to the students about wayfinding and the role this has to play in helping people who are living with dementia

What is TICE ?

TICE is an organisation that works with businesses, schools, colleges and universities to give young people a taste of the opportunities that exist within the commercial creative, design and digital industries.

Professional mentors from different creative industries work with young people from the age of four up to 24 and the projects they introduce change every year to reflect the rate of change in the commercial creative sectors. This year, Creative Writing and Copywriting Mentor, Katherine Wildman, wanted to explore emerging research into dementia and how students could employ a wide range of communication and marketing skills to support people living with dementia, their families, friends and carers.

About the day

Working with a group of 14 and 15 year olds from George Stephenson High School and Bewick Academy, Katherine introduced the proceedings and explained how everyone would be participating in a series of dementia-themed activities.

To kick off the students signed up to become Dementia Friends, following a session delivered by Champions from the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art.

Andrew Newman, Professor of Cultural Gerontology at Newcastle University, gave an insightful presentation which focused on the capabilities of those living with dementia. He talked about the roll cultural activity has to play in ageing well, drawing on some of the research he has conducted via arts based projects.

Arts and cultural marketing agency Crystlsd have set the creative writing students a live brief to promote Tyneside Cinema dementia friendly screenings. Managing Director Laura Rothwell told the students how she got into her profession and the values which underpin her business.

Learning about wayfinding and dementia

Sarah was asked to tell the group about herself and introduce them to wayfinding. This led through to her experiences working on the Haven Court project, a large dementia-specific facility where she applied the Studio LR dementia signage system. She explained how her normal approach is to put herself in the position of those who will be using a space, but that in this instance she was unable to do so.

In the second part of Sarah’s presentation, she explained how she had completed the DSDC Intersection of Dementia + Design Course and what she had learnt about wayfinding for people living with dementia as a result of this.

This was followed by an exercise involving the entrance and foyer, toilets, cafe and wayfinding within Tyneside Cinema. Participants were split into four groups and equipped with worksheets, recommendations from the DSDC and tape measures. Each group also had access to a camera. They were asked to review each aspect and assess whether they were dementia-friendly and to make suggestions for areas which could be improved. Sarah spent time with each group and the results are going to be collated and passed onto the Cinema board as part of the live brief.

top left: finding the way to the workshop; top right: introducing the new all disabilities symbol; bottom left: some of the benefits of good design for people living with dementia; bottom right: assessing the cinema’s signage

Asked to summarise the experience, Sarah commented “I was delighted to be given the opportunity to participate in a TICE live brief and work with such an engaging group of young people. They total got what is needed to make a space dementia friendly and we had some lively discussions as we analysed the cinema building.”