Plymouth City Council has introduced new dementia accessible parking spaces, thought to be the first of their kind in the UK.
Two designated ‘Dementia Friendly’ spaces can now be found in the Western Approach and Theatre Royal car parks, in a move that follows consultation with the city’s carers. The spaces are on entry level and close to the ticket machines and pedestrian exits, with parking staff also receiving extra training to give them a better understanding of dementia.
The Dementia Friendly Plymouth Initiative is co-ordinated by a partnership of Plymouth City Council and the Plymouth Dementia Action Alliance (PDAA). Councillor Ian Tuffin, cabinet member for health and adult social care for Plymouth City Council, said: “The Council welcomes this suggestion from the public to improve our dementia friendly city awareness and improve our services in this way.
“As a council we are committed to working with our partners to help Plymouth to become a more Dementia Friendly city.”
The move was welcomed by the city’s university, with Ian Sherriff, academic partnership lead for dementia, saying: “As someone who is totally committed to helping our society tackle the many challenges that people with dementia and their carers face daily, I am really excited about the news that Plymouth City Council’s parking department have allocated a number of car spaces designated to carers of people with dementia.
“The search for ways to enhance the quality of life for those affected is a constant and complex one. This innovative approach by Plymouth City Council will provide and ensure that the experience of using the city car parks will be Dementia Friendly.”
There are over 3,000 people with a diagnosis of dementia living in Plymouth and this figure is predicted to rise to over 3,600 by 2020.
In a separate move, two of the biggest car parks in Weston-super-Mare became dementia friendly in 2015, when North Somerset Council introduced bright symbols and colourful pictures to help people remember where they have parked. Councillor Elfan Ap Rees said: “This is is an excellent example of an inclusive design.
“It’s such a simple thing to do but is already making a big difference to people using our car parks. I hope this gives other organisations ideas as to how they can make their businesses and facilities dementia friendly.”
In Plymouth, the focus is on helping carers, rather than sufferers, and the Alzheimer’s Society has clear guidelines on when someone with dementia should give up driving. While a diagnosis of dementia is not in itself necessary a reason to stop driving, a person must fulfil certain legal requirements, including telling the DVLA in England, Scotland and Wales, or the DVLNI in Northern Ireland.
For more information on driving and dementia, visit the Alzheimer’s Society website.