21 September is World Alzheimer’s Day, and we’re doing our part to make the cinema more welcoming to people with dementia…
More than 850,000 people in the UK are living with dementia, and for people living with the condition, and their carers, social isolation can be a real challenge. Lack of understanding, stigma around dementia, and inaccessible environments are all reasons why people stop doing the things they enjoy in their local community.
Film can provide a powerful way to reconnect with memories, which is why, in 2016, Picturehouse began regular Dementia-Friendly screenings. These give people living with the condition, and their families, friends and carers, the chance to enjoy a film in an environment subtly tailored to their needs – and a valuable opportunity to socialise.
One regular visitor, Em, explains why she and her mother, Aisha, enjoy coming each month: “When we stay at home, keeping Mum active is harder, and she tends to sleep a lot — but when we come here, she’s wide awake and the brain is stimulated. It keeps her going.”
During screenings, the lights are left on low throughout the film; there’s a short interval halfway through, and chatting or singing along (song sheets are provided for musicals) is positively encouraged.
The welcome is also key. “Over 200 of our staff have become Dementia Friends,” says Leah Byrne, Picturehouse audience development manager. “It means they’re more aware of what it’s like living with dementia, what some of the additional needs of the customers might be, and how important it is to create dementia-friendly communities. One of the biggest bits of feedback we get is how lovely the staff are and how welcoming the environment is.”
The screenings are open to anyone, not just those living with dementia, so come and support the screenings and enjoy a classic on the big screen!
In August we’re showing Mary Poppins, and in September we’re screening Bye Bye Birdie. Tickets are £4, with accompanying carers admitted free, and free refreshments are provided for half an hour before the film and during the interval, so there is a chance to chat.
Picturehouse encourage everyone to support the Alzheimer’s Society’s campaign and become a Dementia Friend – find out more at