Hairdresser helps Tonbridge to lead the way as a dementia friendly town

    Salon owner Karen May

    THE town was abuzz with activity during dementia awareness week [May 15-20].

    From awareness sessions to specialist training for businesses, the volunteers at Dementia Friendly Tonbridge were working tirelessly to help the community make it a better place to live for those with the disease.

    Over the week, they recruited more than 50 volunteers or ‘dementia friends’ as they are informally known.

    In April, the Times highlighted the issue of dementia patients being the victim of financial scams and explained how taxi firm Castle Cars were training their drivers to protect vulnerable customers.

    Keeping an eye out for such abuse is just one of the ways Dementia Friendly Tonbridge say retailers can help.

    Other times it is simply about being accommodating.

    Another example of a ‘dementia friendly’ local retailer is Inspirations Hair Salon who are able to hold appointments without using their mirrors.

    “Some people with dementia revert back to their early years and the person they see in the mirror they don’t see as themselves. We are able to move the chairs around so they don’t have to look in a mirror,” said owner Karen May, who also books repeat appointments for the same time on the same day of the week which can assist with improving memory.

    “It is also about taking care and listening and making sure they don’t feel intimidated. There are so many different types of dementia it is about catering to what they need.

    “It also allows for a much needed break for the carer.”

    The salon also hosts a collection point for the Twiddle Mitt Knit Appeal. The mitts are designed to help people living with dementia remain calm, keep restless hands busy and reduce anxiety.