People with dementia deserve the same service and human rights as everyone else, with full inclusion in their community. The Central Coast Council already has many older customers including those living with dementia. Becoming more dementia-friendly means the Council can provide better services to existing customers, as well as better meeting the needs of people with dementia. The Council applies the definition of a dementia-friendly community as a place where people living with dementia are supported to live a high quality life with meaning, purpose and value.
Adopting the Dementia-Friendly Central Coast Framework in 2017 was the Council’s first step toward making Central Coast more dementia-Friendly. In an important second step in 2018, a Working Group made up of local representatives from service providers, community groups, people living with dementia and carers developed the Dementia-Friendly Central Coast Action Plan (the Action Plan). The Action Plan is a whole-of-community approach to make Central Coast more dementia-friendly.
Why Dementia-Friendly Wayfinding / Directional Signage?
Since the development of the Action Plan in 2018, a project group co-designed and co-produced the Connect Café. With help from volunteer Café Assistants, the Connect Café was launched in June 2018 in order to support people living with dementia, carers and anyone in the community. In partnership with the Tasmanian Health Service, Dementia-Friendly Inclusion training sessions for businesses and community groups were developed and facilitated in 2019 and 2020. Dementia-Friendly Wayfinding/Directional Signage was also identified in the Action Plan.
Supported by Dementia Australia and the Tasmanian Health Service, the Council developed guiding principles to help improve signage in the Ulverstone and Penguin CBDs for people living with dementia. These Guiding Principles can be seen in the section below. Collaboration and expertise provided by the Tasmanian Health Service have enabled the identification of key navigational issues around Central Coast CBDs.
Broad community consultation was undertaken for the dementia-friendly signage proposed for the Ulverstone CBD with all new signage receiving a high-level of community support. The new signage has been manufactured and it is anticipated that installation of the new signs in the Ulverstone CBD will be completed in June 2021.
This initiative has garnered support at the Council to include dementia-friendly principles in the Council’s Signage Guidelines, which could bring about long-term benefits for older Central Coast residents and people living with dementia.
Dementia-Friendly Guiding Principles
1. Readability – Colour and Contrast
Colours and contrast are an important part of the signage. Most signs include words and objects that are a different colour from the background. This contrast affects the readability of the sign. It is important to use a colour in contrast to the environment on the background of the sign. The letters also need to contrast with the background colour.
Proposed Colour Style Guide: Dementia-Friendly Wayfinding Signage
The proposed colour style, black text in a simple font on a yellow background, is consistent with the Dementia-Friendly Central Coast logo shown above, specifically the red gum flower’s gold centre. The proposed colour style guide is also complementary to the Council’s Corporate logo ‘earthy’ colour palette. The signage layouts incorporate the yellow background, which is important as yellow is the last colour on the spectrum that a person with dementia loses.
Short-term memory loss associated with dementia can make it difficult to remember the layout of a physical environment, while cognitive difficulties can impair spatial processing resulting in disorientation and anxiety. Where possible, the use of multiple modes of communication including both written and pictorial (visual) cues is proposed. Signage principles for legibility shown below has guided the Council’s design of Dementia-Friendly Wayfinding / Directional Signage for Central Coast CBDs.
Legibility – Signage Guiding Principles
- Leads people on a pathway to their destination.
- Simple wording only.
- Simple and legible font.
- Use of lower case, rather than all capital letters.
- Easily recognised symbols (visual cues).
- Use of finishes to avoid glare, where possible.
Effective and legible dementia-friendly wayfinding signage can create a significant positive benefit for people living with dementia including supporting independence, confidence and well-being.
Signs should be positioned for people to clearly see and identify them, within their direct line of sight. Visibility signage principles shown below could guide the Council’s dementia-friendly wayfinding efforts.
Visibility – Signage Guiding Principles
- Include signs in paths of travel, e.g. visible to pedestrian traffic (each way) on a footpath.
- Avoid areas that are surrounded by other signs and information, where possible.
- Good light around signage.
- Placed/installed in accordance with signage regulations, and placed lower if possible.
- Centre the sign/s in the space or area, where possible.
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